Leduc-Leballeur, Marion; Picard, Ghislain; Macelloni, Giovanni; Mialon, Arnaud; Kerr, Yann H.

Melt occurrence in Antarctica is derived from L-band observations from the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite between the austral summer 2010–2011 and 2017–2018. The detection algorithm is adapted from a threshold method previously developed for 19 GHz passive microwave measurements from the special sensor microwave imager (SSM/I) and special sensor microwave imager sounder (SSMIS). The comparison of daily melt occurrence retrieved from 1.4 and 19 GHz observations shows an overall close agreement, but a lag of few days is usually observed by SMOS at the beginning of the melt season. To understand the difference, a theoretical analysis is performed using a microwave emission radiative transfer model. It shows that the sensitivity of 1.4 GHz signal to liquid water is significantly weaker than at 19 GHz if the water is only present in the uppermost tens of centimetres of the snowpack. Conversely, 1.4 GHz measurements are sensitive to water when spread over at least 1 m and when present in depths up to hundreds of metres. This is explained by the large penetration depth in dry snow and by the long wavelength (21 cm). We conclude that SMOS and higher-frequency radiometers provide interesting complementary information on melt occurrence and on the location of the water in the snowpack.



Leduc-Leballeur, Marion / Picard, Ghislain / Macelloni, Giovanni / et al: Melt in Antarctica derived from Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) observations at L band. 2020. Copernicus Publications.


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