A study on the c-band polarimetric scattering and physical characteristics of frost flowers on experimental sea ice

Dustin Isleifson, Ryan James Galley, David G. Barber, Jack C. Landy, Alexander S. Komarov, Lotfollah Shafai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


A focused study on the C-band polarimetric scattering and physical characteristics of frost-flower-covered sea ice was conducted at the Sea-Ice Environmental Research Facility over a three day period. Sea ice was grown in an outdoor pool outfitted with automated sensors to monitor environmental conditions. C-band polarimetric scattering measurements were conducted continuously at a range of incidence angles, and surface roughness statistics were obtained at discrete times using a laser scanner system LiDAR. Four stages of development were identified that exhibited notably different physical and scattering characteristics: 1) initial formation; 2) surface brine expulsion; 3) frost flower growth; and 4) decimation. An optimal polarization and incidence angle is not readily apparent for the purposes of identifying the frost flower development Stages I-III; however, the lower incidence angles (25° and 35° appear to be most sensitive to the surface brine expulsion. Only the dual-polarization measurements at low incidence angles (e.g., 25° could be used to identify the onset of the decimation stage. Backscatter increased rapidly during the initial formation, with a local maximum corresponding to ∼80% areal coverage of frost flowers, followed by a local minimum when the surface was covered by a brine-rich surface layer, connoting that surface brine expulsion may be identified using polarimetric scatterometry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6521397
Pages (from-to)1787-1798
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Electromagnetic scattering by nonhomogeneous media
  • electromagnetic scattering measurements
  • geophysical measurements
  • laser radar
  • polarimetric radar
  • radar measurements
  • sea ice


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