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Antarctic Iceberg Tracking Based on Time Series of Aqua AMSRE Microwave Brightness Temperature MeasurementsObservations of icebergs are identified as one of the requirements for the GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) in the area of reducing loss of life and property from natural and human-induced disasters. However, iceberg observations are not included among targets in the GEOSS 10-Year Implementation Plan, and thus there is an unfulfilled need for iceberg detection and tracking in the near future. Large Antarctic icebergs have been tracked by the National Ice Center and by the academic community using a variety of satellite sensors including both passive and active microwave imagers, such as SSM/I (Special Sensor Microwave/Imager) deployed on the DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) spacecraft. Improvements provided in recent years by NASA and non-NASA satellite radars, scatterometers, and radiometers resulted in an increased number of observed icebergs and even prompted a question: Is The Number of Antarctic Icebergs Really Increasing? [D.G. Long, J. Ballantyne, and C. Bertoia, Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 83 (42): 469 & 474, 15 October 2002]. AMSR-E (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for the Earth Observing System) represents an improvement over SSM/I, its predecessor. AMSR-E has more measurement channels and higher spatial resolution than SSM/I. For example, the instantaneous field of view of the AMSR-E s 89-GHz channels is 6 km by 4 km versus 16 km by 14 km for SSM/I s comparable 85-GHz channels. AMSR-E, deployed on the Aqua satellite, scans across a 1450-km swath and provides brightness temperature measurements with nearglobal coverage every one or two days. In polar regions, overlapping swaths generate coverage up to multiple times per day and allow for creation of image time series with high temporal resolution. Despite these advantages, only incidental usage of AMSR-E data for iceberg tracking has been reported so far, none in an operational environment. Therefore, an experiment was undertaken in the RPC (Rapid Prototyping Capability) of NASA s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Applied Science Program to demonstrate that passive microwave brightness temperature measurements acquired by AMSR-E can be effectively used to track iceberg movement around Antarctica. The RPC s robust computation environment enabled processing of terabytes of data products available from the NASA Distributed Active Archive Center at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Iceberg tracking based on the AMSR-E Level 2A data product was compared with records from the National Ice Center for currently existing icebergs. Some icebergs as small as roughly 10 km in size were easily observed, but tracking of many others, even larger ones, was obscured by presence of sea ice surrounding the icebergs. The best results, such as for the large iceberg A22A, were achieved when an iceberg was in open ocean.
Document ID
Document Type
Blonski, Slawomir (Science Systems and Applications, Inc. Bay Saint Louis, MS, United States)
Peterson, Craig (Science Systems and Applications, Inc. Bay Saint Louis, MS, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2006
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.