A practical algorithm for the retrieval of floe size distribution of Arctic sea ice from high-resolution satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery

Byongjun Hwang, Jinchang Ren, Samuel McCormack, Craig Berry, Ismail Ben Ayed, Hans C Graber, Erchan Aptoula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this study, we present an algorithm for summer sea ice conditions that semi-automatically produces the floe size distribution of Arctic sea ice from high-resolution satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar data. Currently, floe size distribution data from satellite images are very rare in the literature, mainly due to the lack of a reliable algorithm to produce such data. Here, we developed the algorithm by combining various image analysis methods, including Kernel Graph Cuts, distance transformation and watershed transformation, and a rule-based boundary revalidation. The developed algorithm has been validated against the ground truth that was extracted manually with the aid of 1-m resolution visible satellite data. Comprehensive validation analysis has shown both perspectives and limitations. The algorithm tends to fail to detect small floes (mostly less than 100 m in mean caliper diameter) compared to ground truth, which is mainly due to limitations in water-ice segmentation. Some variability in the power law exponent of floe size distribution is observed due to the effects of control parameters in the process of de-noising, Kernel Graph Cuts segmentation, thresholds for boundary revalidation and image resolution. Nonetheless, the algorithm, for floes larger than 100 m, has shown a reasonable agreement with ground truth under various selections of these control parameters. Considering that the coverage and spatial resolution of satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar data have increased significantly in recent years, the developed algorithm opens a new possibility to produce large volumes of floe size distribution data, which is essential for improving our understanding and prediction of the Arctic sea ice cover.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number38
JournalElementa
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Sea ice
radar imagery
Synthetic aperture radar
sea ice
synthetic aperture radar
Satellites
segmentation
image resolution
Image resolution
Watersheds
ice cover
image analysis
Image analysis
Ice
satellite data
power law
spatial resolution
watershed
ice
summer

Keywords

  • Arctic
  • Image processing
  • Sea ice floe size
  • Synthetic Aperture Radar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology
  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

A practical algorithm for the retrieval of floe size distribution of Arctic sea ice from high-resolution satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery. / Hwang, Byongjun; Ren, Jinchang; McCormack, Samuel; Berry, Craig; Ayed, Ismail Ben; Graber, Hans C; Aptoula, Erchan.

In: Elementa, Vol. 5, 38, 01.01.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hwang, Byongjun ; Ren, Jinchang ; McCormack, Samuel ; Berry, Craig ; Ayed, Ismail Ben ; Graber, Hans C ; Aptoula, Erchan. / A practical algorithm for the retrieval of floe size distribution of Arctic sea ice from high-resolution satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery. In: Elementa. 2017 ; Vol. 5.
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