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Defining Arctic sea ice Fiducial Reference Measurements (FRMs) for the Copernicus Sentinel-3 Surface Topography Mission – the ESA st3TART project
by Dr. Henriette Skourup, Dr. Sara Fleury, Mrs./Ms. Renée Mie Fredenborg Hansen, Dr. Jean-Christophe Poisson, Dr. Frederic Vivier, Dr. Antonio Laurenco, Dr. Emma Woolliams, Dr. Mathilde Cancet, Mrs./Ms. Elodie DA SILVA, Dr. Pierre Féménias


The Copernicus Sentinel-3 Surface Topography Mission (STM) provides extremely valuable surface elevation information over inland waters, sea ice and land ice, thanks to its SAR altimeter which retrieves high-resolution along-track elevation measurements, and to its orbit that covers relatively high-latitudes in polar regions. The ESA st3TART project aims to generalize the concept of Fiducial Reference Measurements (FRMs) for the Copernicus Sentinel-3 STM and to collect and distribute FRM data for the validation of the satellite mission over inland waters, sea ice and land ice. This presentation will focus on the current status within the st3TART sea ice theme, to define the framework of FRMs to support a proper validation of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 STM Land sea ice products and associated geophysical measurements, i.e. the surface type classification over sea ice (leads/floes), the radar sea ice freeboard and the sea ice thickness. This implicitly includes knowledge of the snow depth, the speed of propagation of the radar wave in snow (assuming that the radar wave passes through the snow), and of densities of water, ice and snow. We present existing methods and lessons learnt from previous reference campaigns to identify suitable solutions in terms of sensors, validation sites, sampling strategy, sensor stability, uncertainty budget. The sea ice team has planned a st3TART campaign in sea ice covered regions in spring 2022 coordinated with ESA CryoVEx/CRYO2ICE 2022 airborne campaign, will combine tested techniques, i.e. a similar airborne setup as recent ESA CryoVEx campaigns with lidar and dual-frequency radar altimeters, as well as new novel techniques such as lidar equipped drones and drifting buoys, which will provide a unique combination of data beneficial for the validation of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 sea ice products. We also present an initial roadmap for the provision of Copernicus Sentinel-3 FRM for sea ice, considering the most relevant and cost-effective methods to be maintained or implemented, and identifying the parameters that are missing or are insufficiently covered or precise over the entire duration of a satellite mission. This roadmap can be used as a baseline for other present and future satellite altimetry missions, e.g. the Copernicus expansion mission CRISTAL.

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Topic : Theme 1: Cryosphere monitoring.
Reference : T1-E5

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