STSE > Project


Project Reference

Name SSIMBioSis

Title Satellite Sea Ice Melt and Biogeophysical process Studies

Thematic Area Cryosphere


Action Line

Status In Progress

Missions ENVISAT, Sentinel-1


Project Description


Each spring, the end of winter darkness and onset of sunlight causes rapid changes in a vast array of bio-geophysical components of the Arctic marine ecosystem. Changes in forcings at the sea ice surface, such as solar heating, are manifest as physical property changes, such as snow melt layers and melt pond formation, which are potentially detectable using satellite active microwave data. In turn, satellite microwave data show potential for detecting the timing and magnitude of sea ice physical property changes in order to understand more about forcing anomalies due to climate variability and make inferences about linkages to atmospheric and oceanic processes occurring at the ocean-sea ice-atmosphere (OSA).

The SSIMBioSis project will contribute satellite microwave observation techniques to enable accurate, regional-scale, assessments of sea ice melting state and surface albedo during the spring-summer melt period and their relationships to coupled bio-geophysical processes. Investigations are initially focused on time series datasets from the Advanced SAR (ASAR) on Envisat, a sensor which provided high resolution microwave backscatter information unaffected by cloud cover. Coincident archived field datasets from comprehensive, multidisciplinary, sea ice campaigns in the Canadian Arctic (2004-2011) are being processed for key seasonal timings and the main sea ice physical parameters affecting SAR measured microwave scattering. Emphasis is being placed on the retrieval of parameters associated with sea ice melt pond fraction (e.g. pond formation, pond fraction evolution, drainage) due to the significant role which melt ponds play in localised surface albedo feedback mechanisms, and the need for a better understanding of spatial and temporal variations for more realistic climate model calculations. Proposed approaches for the utilization of the GMES Sentinel-1 SAR beginning in 2014 will also be formulated. The added-value of cloud-free Envisat Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) data to ASAR derived products is being evaluated.

Project Consortium

Project Partners U Manitoba : University of Manitoba(CESN Host Institition)

Contact Points

Project Manager Dr. Randall Scharien,
Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS),
Faculty of Environment, Earth & Resources
University of Manitoba,
495 Wallace Building,
125 Dysart Road,
Manitoba R3T 2N2,
Tel: +1 204 474 9980,
Fax: +1 204 272 1532,

Technical Officer


Useful Information

Brochure: STSE | Support to Science Element
STSE Report 2008-2012
STSE Conferences