Abstract's details

SPICE: Sentinel-3 Performance Improvement for Ice Sheets

Malcolm McMillan (University of Leeds, United Kingdom)


Roger Escola (isardSAT Ltd, United Kingdom); Monica Roca (isardSAT Ltd, United Kingdom); Pierre Thibaut (CLS, France); Andrew Shepherd (University of Leeds, United Kingdom); Frederique Remy (LEGOS, France); Jeremie Aublanc (CLS, France); Clemente Lacrouts (CLS, France); Jerome Benveniste (ESA, Italy); Americo Ambrozio (ESA, Italy); Marco Restano (ESA, Italy)

Event: 2017 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting

Session: Science IV: 25 years of satellite altimetry for Cryosphere and Hydrology: from experimental to emerging operational applications

Presentation type: Type Poster

Contribution: not provided


For the past 25 years, polar-orbiting satellite radar altimeters have provided a valuable record of ice sheet elevation change and mass balance. One of the principle challenges associated with radar altimetry comes from the relatively large ground footprint of conventional pulse-limited radars, which reduces their capacity to make measurements in areas of complex topographic terrain. In recent years, progress has been made towards improving ground resolution, through the implementation of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), or Delay-Doppler, techniques. In 2010, the launch of CryoSat-2 heralded the start of a new era of SAR Interferometric (SARIn) altimetry. However, because the satellite operated in SARIn and LRM mode over the ice sheets, many of the non-interferometric SAR altimeter processing techniques have been optimized for water and sea ice surfaces only. The launch of Sentinel-3, which provides full non-interferometric SAR coverage of the ice sheets, therefore presents the opportunity to further develop these SAR processing methodologies over ice sheets.

Here we present results from SPICE (Sentinel-3 Performance Improvement for Ice Sheets), a 2 year study that focuses on (1) developing and evaluating Sentinel-3 SAR altimetry processing methodologies over the Polar ice sheets, and (2) investigating radar wave penetration through comparisons of Ku- and Ka-band satellite measurements. The project, which is funded by ESA's SEOM (Scientific Exploitation of Operational Missions) programme, has worked in advance of the operational phase of Sentinel-3, to emulate Sentinel-3 SAR and pseudo-LRM data from dedicated CryoSat-2 SAR acquisitions made at the Lake Vostok, Dome C and Spirit sites in East Antarctica, and from reprocessed SARIn data in Greenland. In Phase 1 of the project we have evaluated existing processing methodologies, and in Phase 2 we are investigating new evolutions to the Delay-Doppler Processing (DDP) and retracking chains. In this presentation we (1) evaluate the existing Sentinel-3 processing chain by comparing our emulated Sentinel-3 elevations to reference airborne datasets, (2) describe new developments to the DDP and retracking algorithms that are aimed at improving the certainty of retrievals over ice sheets, and (3) investigate radar wave penetration by comparing our SAR data to waveforms and elevations acquired by AltiKa at Ka-band.

Poster show times:

Room Start Date End Date
Concerto Ballroom Thu, Oct 26 2017,14:00 Thu, Oct 26 2017,18:00
Malcolm McMillan
University of Leeds
United Kingdom