Physical Basis for Microwave Remote Sensing of Sea Ice and Snow

  • Martti Hallikainen
Conference paper
Part of the Nato ASI Series book series (volume 45)


About 10% of the world Ocean is covered by sea ice during some portion of the year. Sea ice participates in the key large-scale processes of the Earth’s climate system, the absorption and emission of radiant energy, and the poleward flux of heat (Carsey et al., 1992). This participation comes about through processes involving the atmosphere, the ocean, and the radiation field. Some of these are outlined below:
  • Radiative balance: The snow-covered sea ice has a very high albedo relative to that of the open ocean. Therefore, changes in sea ice extent cause drastic changes in the surface albedo of the high-latitude seas.

  • Surface heat: Although the fully developed ice cover is an effective insulator between the cold air and the relatively warm ocean, areas of open water and thin ice lose heat rapidly during the cold seasons (Maykut, 1986).

  • Ice margin processes: The abrupt transition to open water gives rise to unique processes, including water mass formation, oceanic upwelling, eddy formation, and generation of atmospheric instability (Muench et al., 1987).

  • Operations: Navigation and trafficability on and below the surface, drill ship operations in the marginal seas and harbor operations are concerned with locating areas of thin ice, identifying hazards such as very thick and deformed ice, and forecasting ice conditions.


Brightness Temperature Snow Water Equivalent Liquid Water Content Dielectric Loss Factor Microwave Remote Sensing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson DL (1960) The physical constants of sea ice. Res Appl in Industry 13: 310–318Google Scholar
  2. Arcone SA , Gow AG, McGrew S (1986) Structure and dielectric properties at 4.8 and 9.5 GHz of saline ice. J Geophys Res 91: 14281–14303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Assur A (1960) Composition of sea ice and its tensile strength. U.S. Army Snow and Ice and Permafrost Res Establ, Wilmette, ILGoogle Scholar
  4. Carsey FD , Barry RG, Weeks WF (1992) Introduction, Chapter 1 in: Carsey, F.D. (editor), Microwave remote sensing of sea ice, American Geophysical Union Monograph 68, Washington, DC, USACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Colbeck SC (1982) The geometry and permittivity of snow at high frequencies. Journal of Applied Physics 53: 4495–4500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cumming W (1952) The dielectric properties of ice and snow at 3.2 cm. Journal of Applied Physics 23: 768–773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Debye P (1929) Polar Molecules, Dover, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Evans S (1965) Dielectric properties of ice and snow — a review. Journal of Glaciology 5: 773–792Google Scholar
  9. Foster JL , Hall DK, Chang ATC, Rango A (1984) An overview of passive microwave snow research and results. Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics 22, no. 2: 195–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Foster JL , Chang ATC (1992) Snow cover, in: Guerney RJ, Foster JL, and Parkinson CL (editors), Atlas of satellite observations related to global change, University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  11. Gloersen P , Nordberg W, Schmugge TJ, Wilheit TT, Campbell WJ (1973) Microwave signatures of first-year and multiyear sea ice. Journal of Geophysical Research 78: 3564–3572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gray AL , Hawkins RK, Livingstone CE, Arsenault LD (1981) Seasonal effects on the microwave signatures of Beaufort Sea ice, Proc. 15th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment, pp. 239–257, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, May 11–15Google Scholar
  13. Gray DM Male DH (1981) Handbook of snow: Principles, processes, management and use, Elmsford, NY, USA: Pergamon PressGoogle Scholar
  14. Grenfell TC , Cavalieri DJ, Comiso JC, Drinkwater MR, Onstott RG, Rubinstein I, Steffen K, Winebrenner DP (1992) Considerations for microwave remote sensing of thin sea ice, Chapter 14 in: Carsey, F.D. (editor), Microwave remote sensing of sea ice, AGU Geophysical Monograph Series No. 68: 291–301, Washington DC, USAGoogle Scholar
  15. Hallikainen MT (1977) Dielectric properties of NaC1 ice at 16 GHz, Report S 107, Helsinki University of Technology, Radio Laboratory, 37 pp., Espoo, FinlandGoogle Scholar
  16. Hallikainen MT (1983) A new low-salinity sea ice model for UHF radiometry. International Journal of Remote Sensing 4: 655–681CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hallikainen MT , Jolma P (1986) Retrieval of snow water equivalent in Finland by satellite microwave radiometry. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 24: 855–862CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hallikainen MT , Ulaby FT, Abdelrazik M (1986) Dielectric properties of snow in the 3 to 37 GHz range. IEEE Trans Antennas Propagation AP-34: 1329–1340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hallikainen MT , Ulaby FT, Van Deventer TE (1987) Extinction behavior of dry snow in the 18 to 90 GHz range. IEEE Trans. Geoscience and Remote Sensing GE-25, No. 6: 737–745CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hallikainen MT , Toikka M, Hyyppä J (1988) Microwave dielectric properties of lowsalinity sea ice, Proc. IGARSS’88 Symposium, pp. 419–420Google Scholar
  21. Hallikainen MT (1989) Microwave radiometry of snow. Advances in Space Research 9: (1)267–(1)275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hallikainen MT , Winebrenner D (1992) The physical basis for sea ice remote sensing, Chapter 3 in: Carsey, F.D. (editor), Microwave remote sensing of sea ice, AGU Geophysical Monograph Series No. 68: 291–301, Washington DC, USAGoogle Scholar
  23. Hoekstra P , Cappillino P (1971) Dielectric properties of sea and sodium chloride ice at UHF and microwave frequencies. J Geophys Res 76: 4922–4931CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hollinger JP (1971) Remote passive microwave sensing of the ocean surface. Proc 7th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment, pp. 1807–1817, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, 17–21 May.Google Scholar
  25. Hyyppä J , Hallikainen MT (1991) Classification of low-salinity sea ice types by ranging scatterometer. International Journal of Remote Sensing 13: 2399–2413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kim YS , Moore RK, Onstott RG, Gogineni S (1985) Towards identification of optimum radar parameters for sea ice monitoring. Journal of Glaciology 31(109): 214–219Google Scholar
  27. Kuittinen R (1992) Remote sensing for hydrology: progress and prospects, World Meteorological Organization, Operational Hydrology Report No. 36, 62 pp., Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  28. Kurvonen L, Hallikainen MT (1995a) Classification of Baltic Sea ice types by airborne multifrequency microwave radiometer. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, in pressGoogle Scholar
  29. Maykut GA (1986) The surface heat and mass flux, in: Untersteiner, N., The geophysics of sea ice, pp. 395–464, NATO ASI Series B: Physics Vol. 146, Plenum Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Muench RD, Martin S, Overland J (1987) Preface: Second marginal ice zone research collection. Journal of Geophysical Research 92, entire issueGoogle Scholar
  31. Mätzler C , Wegmüiller U (1987) Dielectric properties of fresh-water ice at microwave frequencies. J Phys D: Appl Phys 20: 1623–1630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Onstott RG , Moore RK, Gogineni S, Delker C (1982) Four years of low-altitude sea ice broad-band backscatter measurements. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 0E-7: 44–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Onstott RG , Grenfell TC, Mätzler C, Luther CA, Svendsen EA (1987) Evolution of microwave sea ice signatures during early summer and midsummer in the marginal ice zone. Journal of Geophysical Research 92(C7): 6825–6835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Onstott RG (1992) SAR and scatterometer signatures of sea ice, Chapter 5 in: Carsey, F.D. (editor), Microwave remote sensing of sea ice. AGU Geophysical Monograph Series No. 68, Washington DC, USACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sackinger WM , Byrd RC (1972) Refection of millimeter waves from snow and sea ice, IAEE Report 7203, Institute of Arctic Environmental Engineering, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, USAGoogle Scholar
  36. Stiles WH , Ulaby FT (1980) Microwave remote sensing of snowpacks, RSL Technical Report 340–3, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USAGoogle Scholar
  37. Stogryn A , Desargeant GJ (1985) The dielectric properties of brine in sea ice at microwave frequencies. IEEE Trans Antennas Propagation AP-33: 523–532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tiuri M , Sihvola A, Nyfors E, Hallikainen MT (1984) The complex dielectric constant of snow at microwave frequencies. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering OE-9:377–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tucker WB, III , Perovich DK, Gow AJ, Weeks WF, Drinkwater MR (1992) Physical properties of sea ice relevant to remote sensing, Chapter 2 in: Carsey, F.D. (editor), Microwave remote sensing of sea ice. AGU Geophysical Monograph Series No. 68, Washington DC, USACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ulaby FT , Moore RK, Fung AK (1986) Microwave Remote Sensing — Active and Passive, Vol. III: From Theory to Applications, Artech House, Inc., Dedham, MA, USAGoogle Scholar
  41. Ulander L, Johansson R, Askne J (1991) C-band radar backscatter of Baltic ice: Theoretical predictions compared with calibrated SAR measurements. International Journal of Remote Sensing Google Scholar
  42. Ulander L (1991) Radar remote sensing of sea ice: Measurements and theory, Technical report 212, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, SwedenGoogle Scholar
  43. Ulander L , Carlström A (1991) Radar backscatter signatures of Baltic ice, Proc. 1991 IEEE IGARSS Symposium, Vol. 3: 1215–1218, Espoo, Finland, 3–6 June 1991Google Scholar
  44. Unal CMH , Snoeij P, Swart PJF (1990) The polarization dependent relation between radar backscatter from the ocean surface and surface wind vector at frequencies between 1 and 18 GHz, Proc. IEEE IGARSS’90 Symposium, pp. 2165–2167, College Park, Maryland, USA, 20–24 May 1990Google Scholar
  45. Vant MR , Gray R, Ramseier R, Makios V (1974) Dielectric properties of fresh and sea ice at 10 and 35 Ghz. Journal of Applied Physics 45: 4712–4717CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vant MR (1976) A combined empirical and theoretical study of the dielectric properties of sea ice over the frequency range 100 MHz to 40 GHz, Technical Report, Carleton University, Ontario, Ottawa, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  47. Vant MR , Ramseier RO, Makios V (1978) The complex-dielectric constant of sea ice at frequencies in the range 0.1–40 GHz. Journal of Applied Physics 49: 1264–1280CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martti Hallikainen
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Space TechnologyHelsinki University of TechnologyEspooFinland

Personalised recommendations