The Influence of Bubbles on the Seasonal SAR Backscatter Response of Perennially Ice-Covered Lakes, Antarctica

Title: The Influence of Bubbles on the Seasonal SAR Backscatter Response of Perennially Ice-Covered Lakes, Antarctica
Authors: Gaudreau, Adam
Date: 2023-11-20
Abstract: Antarctica is home to numerous perennially ice-covered (PIC) lakes that host rich benthic microbial ecosystems. These lakes are covered by a thick floating ice cover year-round and often have water columns supersaturated in dissolved gases, resulting in heavily bubbled ice covers, altering the optical properties of the ice and the amount of light that penetrates into the water column. Thus, understanding the optical properties of perennial lake ice can have important scientific implications to the study of life on Earth and the search for extraterrestrial life. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) remote sensing has been used rigorously for over 50 years to study and monitor the seasonal response and long-term trends of backscatter over seasonally ice-covered (SIC) Arctic lakes. Limited studies have assessed the impacts of dissolved gases and ice/water interface bubbles on SAR backscatter variability over SIC lakes. The seasonal backscatter response of Antarctic PIC lakes remains unexplored; their physical nature asserts that their backscatter response should largely be decoupled from seasonal factors according to SIC lake backscatter theory. Additionally, gas supersaturated PIC lakes are ideal candidates to better understand the role of gas buildup and bubble formation on the backscatter response from floating ice covers. This thesis leverages a dense stack of Sentinel-1 C-band SAR imagery over Lake Untersee, a well-sealed PIC lake in East Antarctica, to explore the relationships between SAR backscatter and ice/water interface bubbles. This analysis integrates field measurements and temporal observations at the ice/water interface. Lastly, a brief comparative analysis extends to other ice covers, including moat-forming PIC lakes, as well as first-year and multi-year Arctic sea and lake ice. It is shown that Lake Untersee has a seasonal backscatter regime that is linked to air temperature. A strong correlation is found between the timing of backscatter intensity increase in winter and ice thickness. This relationship is attributed to variations in ice thickness which affect the length of the freezing period under the ice, the rate of dissolved gas accumulation, and ultimately, the nucleation and abundance of bubbles at the ice/water interface. These findings can be applied to other PIC lakes that have seasonal gas regimes. This research provides valuable insights into the complex interplay between ice cover characteristics, gas dynamics, interface bubbles, and SAR backscatter, enhancing our understanding of polar aquatic ecosystems and their broader implications for global environments.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -