Justin Murfitt


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Investigating the Effect of Lake Ice Properties on Multifrequency Backscatter Using the Snow Microwave Radiative Transfer Model
Justin Murfitt, Claude R. Duguay, Ghislain Picard, Grant E. Gunn
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Volume 60

Recent investigations using polarimetric decomposition and numerical models have helped to improve understanding of how radar signals interact with lake ice. However, further research is needed on how radar signals are impacted by varying lake ice properties. Radiative transfer models provide one method of improving this understanding. These are the first published experiments using the Snow Microwave Radiative Transfer (SMRT) model to investigate the response of different imaging SAR frequencies (L, C, and X-band) at HH and VV polarizations using various incidence angles (20°, 30°, and 40°) to changes in ice thickness, porosity, bubble radius, and ice-water interface roughness. This is also the first use of SMRT in combination with a thermodynamic lake ice model. Experiments were for a lake with tubular bubbles and one without tubular bubbles under difference scenarios. Analysis of the backscatter response to different properties indicate that increasing ice thickness and layer porosity have little impact on backscatter from lake ice. X-band backscatter shows increased response to surface ice layer bubble radius; however, this was limited for other frequencies except at shallower incidence angles (40°). All three frequencies display the largest response to increasing RMS height at the ice-water interface, which supports surface scattering at the ice-water interface as being the dominant scattering mechanism. These results demonstrate that SMRT is a valuable tool for understanding the response of SAR data to changes in freshwater lake ice properties and could be used in the development of inversion models.


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Application of GNSS Interferometric Reflectometry for the Estimation of Lake Ice Thickness
Yusof Ghiasi, Claude R. Duguay, Justin Murfitt, J.J. van der Sanden, Aaron Thompson, H. Drouin, C Prévost
Remote Sensing, Volume 12, Issue 17

Lake ice thickness is a sensitive indicator of climate change largely through its dependency on near-surface air temperature and on-ice snow mass (depth and density). Monitoring of the seasonal variations and trends in ice thickness is also important for the operation of winter ice roads that northern communities rely on for the movement of goods as well as for cultural and leisure activities (e.g., snowmobiling). Therefore, consistent measurements of ice thickness over lakes is important; however, field measurements tend to be sparse in both space and time in many northern countries. Here, we present an application of L-band frequency Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Interferometric Reflectometry (GNSS-IR) for the estimation of lake ice thickness. The proof of concept is demonstrated through the analysis of Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) time series extracted from Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation L1 band raw data acquired between 8 and 22 March (2017 and 2019) at 14 lake ice sites located in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Dominant frequencies are extracted using Least Squares Harmonic Estimation (LS-HE) for the retrieval of ice thickness. Estimates compare favorably with in-situ measurements (mean absolute error = 0.05 m, mean bias error = −0.01 m, and root mean square error = 0.07 m). These results point to the potential of GPS/GNSS-IR as a complementary tool to traditional field measurements for obtaining consistent ice thickness estimates at many lake locations, given the relatively low cost of GNSS antennas/receivers.

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Assessing the Performance of Methods for Monitoring Ice Phenology of the World’s Largest High Arctic Lake Using High-Density Time Series Analysis of Sentinel-1 Data
Justin Murfitt, Claude R. Duguay
Remote Sensing, Volume 12, Issue 3

Lake ice is a dominant component of Canada’s landscape and can act as an indicator for how freshwater aquatic ecosystems are changing with warming climates. While lake ice monitoring through government networks has decreased in the last three decades, the increased availability of remote sensing images can help to provide consistent spatial and temporal coverage for areas with annual ice cover. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data are commonly used for lake ice monitoring, due to the acquisition of images in any condition (time of day or weather). Using Sentinel-1 A/B images, a high-density time series of SAR images was developed for Lake Hazen in Nunavut, Canada, from 2015–2018. These images were used to test two different methods of monitoring lake ice phenology: one method using the first difference between SAR images and another that applies the Otsu segmentation method. Ice phenology dates determined from the two methods were compared with visual interpretation of the Sentinel-1 images. Mean errors for the pixel comparison of the first difference method ranged 3–10 days for ice-on and ice-off, while average error values for the Otsu method ranged 2–10 days. Mean errors for comparisons of different sections of the lake ranged 0–15 days for the first difference method and 2–17 days for the Otsu method. This research demonstrates the value of temporally consistent image acquisition for improving the accuracy of lake ice monitoring.