Quantifying the Influence of Snow over Sea Ice Morphology on L-Band Microwave Satellite Observations in the Southern Ocean
Abstract. Antarctic snow on sea ice can contain slush, refrozen snow-ice and stratified layers, complicating satellite retrieval processes for snow depth, ice thickness, and sea ice concentration. The introduction of moist and brine-wetted snow alters microwave snow emissions and modifies the energy and mass balance of sea ice. This study assesses the impact of brine-wetted snow and slush layers on L-band surface brightness temperatures (Tbs) by synergizing a snow stratigraphy model (SNOWPACK) driven by atmospheric reanalysis data and a RAdiative transfer model Developed for Ice and Snow in the L-band (RADIS-L) v1.0. The updated RADIS-L v1.1 further introduces parameterisations for brine-wetted and slush snow layers over Antarctic sea ice. Our findings highlight the importance of including both brine-wetted snow and slush layers in order to accurately simulate L-band brightness temperatures, laying the groundwork for improved satellite retrievals of snow depth and ice thickness using satellite sensors such as the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) and Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP). However, biases in modeled and observed L-band brightness temperatures persist, which we attribute to sub-grid scale ice surface variability and snow stratigraphy. Given the scarcity of comprehensive in situ snow and ice data in the Southern Ocean, ramping up observational initiatives in the region is imperative to provide not only satellite validation data sets but also improving process-level understanding that can scale up to improving the precision of satellite snow and ice thickness retrievals.
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