Assessing Scale Dependence on Local Sea Level Retrievals from Laser Altimetry Data over Sea Ice

Tian, Liuxi
Xie, Hongjie
Ackley, Stephen F.
Mestas-Nuñez, Alberto M.
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The measurement of sea ice elevation above sea level or the "freeboard" depends upon an accurate retrieval of the local sea level. The local sea level has been previously retrieved from altimetry data alone by the lowest elevation method, where the percentage of the lowest elevations over a particular segment length scale was used. Here, we provide an evaluation of the scale dependence on these local sea level retrievals using data from NASA Operation IceBridge (OIB) which took place in the Ross Sea in 2013. This is a unique dataset of laser altimeter measurements over five tracks from the Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM), with coincidently high-spatial resolution images from the Digital Mapping System (DMS), that allows for an independent sea level validation. The local sea level is first calculated by using the mean elevation of ATM L1B data over leads identified by using the corresponding DMS imagery. The resulting local sea level reference is then used as ground truth to validate the local sea levels retrieved from ATM L2 by using nine different percentages of the lowest elevation (0.1%, 0.5%, 1%, 1.5%, 2%, 2.5%, 3%, 3.5%, and 4%) at seven different segment length scales (1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 50 km) for each of the five ATM tracks. The closeness to the 1:1 line, R2 , and root mean square error (RMSE) is used to quantify the accuracy of the retrievals. It is found that all linear least square fits are statistically significant (p < 0.05) using an F test at every scale for all tested data. In general, the sea level retrievals are farther away from the 1:1 line when the segment length scale increases from 1 or 5 to 50 km. We find that the retrieval accuracy is affected more by the segment length scale than the percentage scale. Based on our results, most retrievals underestimate the local sea level; the longer the segment length (from 1 to 50 km) used, especially at small percentage scales, the larger the error tends to be. The best local sea level based on a higher R2 and smaller RMSE for all the tracks combined is retrieved by using 0.1–2% of the lowest elevations at the 1–5 km segment lengths.

lowest elevation method, segment length, Operation IceBridge, Ross Sea, Antarctica
Remote Sensing 12 (22): 3732 (2020)
Earth and Planetary Sciences