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Investigation of Seasonal Landscape Freeze/Thaw Cycles in Relation to Cloud Structure in the High Northern LatitudesThe seasonal freezing and thawing of Earth's cryosphere (the portion of Earth's surface permanently or seasonally frozen) has an immense impact on Earth's climate as well as on its water, carbon and energy cycles. During the spring, snowmelt and the transition between frozen and non-frozen states lowers Earth's surface albedo. This change in albedo causes more solar radiation to be absorbed by the land surface, raising surface soil and air temperatures as much as 5 C within a few days. The transition of ice into liquid water not only raises the surface humidity, but also greatly affects the energy exchange between the land surface and the atmosphere as the phase change creates a latent energy dominated system. There is strong evidence to suggest that the thawing of the cryosphere during spring and refreezing during autumn is correlated to local atmospheric conditions such as cloud structure and frequency. Understanding the influence of land surface freeze/thaw cycles on atmospheric structure can help improve our understanding of links between seasonal land surface state and weather and climate, providing insight into associated changes in Earth's water, carbon, and energy cycles that are driven by climate change.Information on both the freeze/thaw states of Earth's land surface and cloud characteristics is derived from data sets collected by NOAA's Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I), the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on NASA's Earth Observing System(AMSR-E), NASA's CloudSat, and NASA's SeaWinds-on-QuickSCAT Earth remote sensing satellite instruments. These instruments take advantage of the microwave spectrum to collect an ensemble of atmospheric and land surface data. Our analysis uses data from radars (active instruments which transmit a microwave signal toward Earth and measure the resultant backscatter) and radiometers (passive devices which measure Earth's natural microwave emission) to accurately characterize salient details on Earth's surface and atmospheric states. By comparing the cloud measurements and the surface freeze-thaw data sets, a correlation between the two phenomena can be developed.
Document ID
Document Type
External Source(s)
Smith, Cosmo
Date Acquired
April 23, 2015
Publication Date
August 1, 2011
Subject Category
Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
Meteorology and Climatology
Distribution Limits
microwave remote sensing