Department Seminar: Bernd Scheuchl
Title: Benefits of Synthetic Aperture RADAR Data for Ice Sheet Science: The Story of a Quest for a Virtual Satellite Constellation
Abstract: Ice sheets are acknowledged by WMO and UNFCCC as an Essential Climate Variable (ECV) needed to make significant progress in the generation of global climate products and derived information. To date, several national and international programs fund efforts to generate high quality geoinformation products for Antarctica and Greenland based on satellite remote sensing data. Specifically, interferometric Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR) data prove particularly useful for ice sheet science. The Rignot research group has been a global leader in this effort since 2009. With funding from NASA MEaSUREs program, our group is producing ice velocity (IV), grounding line position (GP), Ice front position (IP), as well as basin boundaries as Earth Science Data Records (ESDR). These products are generated on a continental scale, though coverage is limited by the data availability for the corresponding observation period. Products are archived and made available at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. While SAR data now seem abundant, the quest for data throughout our project continues to be an important aspect of the work. In 2023, there are many SAR satellites in orbit, however, none of them is a dedicated science mission.
With a focus on the science needs and advances, I will provide some background on the technology used, discuss the history of our products and data availability, and talk about our ongoing efforts to shape the observation plans of international SAR missions. I will outline my role in international coordination efforts as well as in two NASA initiatives to evaluate the growing commercial SAR sector: one to evaluate commercial third party data for scientific use, and the other to evaluate commercial vendors as potential contributors to a future NASA SAR mission. More importantly, I will discuss the impact of the data collected as well as new data available on advances in ice sheet science.
Last but not least, I will give a brief overview of the joint US and India effort NISAR, an L-band SAR science mission to be launched in early 2024. This mission will change the way we look at the Antarctic Ice sheet going forward.