Parameterization of centimeter-scale sea ice surface roughness using terrestrial LiDAR

Jack C. Landy*, Dustin Isleifson, Alexander S. Komarov, David G. Barber

*Corresponding author for this work

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

29 Citations (Scopus)


Microwave scattering from sea ice is partially controlled by the ice surface roughness. In this paper, we propose a technique for calculating 2-D centimeter-scale surface roughness parameters, including the rms height, correlation length, and form of autocorrelation function, from 3-D terrestrial light detection and ranging data. We demonstrate that a single scale of roughness can be extracted from complex sea ice surfaces, incorporating multiple scales of topography, after sophisticated 2-D detrending, and calculate roughness parameters for a wide range of artificial and natural sea ice surface types. The 2-D technique is shown to be considerably more precise than standard 1-D profiling techniques and can therefore characterize surface roughness as a stationary single-scale process, which a 1-D technique typically cannot do. Sea ice surfaces are generally found to have strongly anisotropic correlation lengths, indicating that microwave scattering models for sea ice should include surface spectra that vary as a function of the azimuthal angle of incident radiation. However, our results demonstrate that there is no fundamental relationship between the rms height and correlation length for sea ice surfaces if the sampling area is above a threshold minimum size.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6866911
Pages (from-to)1271-1286
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Geophysical measurements
  • Ice surface
  • Laser applications
  • Measurement by laser beam
  • Radar scattering
  • Sea ice
  • Surface roughness
  • Surface topography


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