Instantaneous sea ice drift speed from TanDEM-X interferometry
Journal article, 2019

The drift of sea ice is an important geophysical process with widespread implications for the ocean energy budget and ecosystems. Drifting sea ice can also threaten marine operations and present a hazard for ocean vessels and installations. Here, we evaluate single-pass along-track synthetic aperture radar (SAR) interferometry (S-ATI) as a tool to assess ice drift while discussing possible applications and inherent limitations. Initial validation shows that TanDEM-X phase-derived drift speed corresponds well with drift products from a ground-based radar at Utqiagvik, Alaska. Joint analysis of TanDEM-X and Sentinel-1 data covering the Fram Strait demonstrates that S-ATI can help quantify the opening/closing rate of leads with possible applications for navigation. S-ATI enables an instantaneous assessment of ice drift and dynamic processes that are otherwise difficult to observe. For instance, by evaluating sea ice drift through the Vilkitsky Strait, Russia, we identified short-lived transient convergence patterns. We conclude that S-ATI enables the identification and analysis of potentially important dynamic processes (e.g., drift, rafting, and ridging). However, current limitations of S-ATI are significant (e.g., data availability and they presently only provide the cross-track vector component of the ice drift field) but may be significantly reduced with future SAR systems.


Dyre Oliver Dammann

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Microwave and Optical Remote Sensing


Leif Eriksson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Microwave and Optical Remote Sensing

Joshua M. Jones

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Andrew R. Mahoney

Hokkaido University

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Roland Romeiser

University of Miami

Franz J. Meyer

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Hajo Eicken

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Hokkaido University

Yasushi Fukamachi

Hokkaido University


1994-0416 (ISSN) 1994-0424 (eISSN)

Vol. 13 4 1395-1408

Unfolding Sea Ice Dynamics with SAR

Swedish National Space Board (192/15), 2016-01-01 -- 2018-12-31.

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

Geosciences, Multidisciplinary



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