Instantaneous sea ice drift speed from TanDEM-X interferometry
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 Utqiaġvik, 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.