Ziyad, J; Goita, K; Magagi, R; Blarel, F; Frappart, F (2020). Improving the Estimation of Water Level over Freshwater Ice Cover using Altimetry Satellite Active and Passive Observations. REMOTE SENSING, 12(6), 967.

Owing to its temporal resolution of 10-day and its polar orbit allowing several crossings over large lakes, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the French Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) missions including Topex/Poseidon, Jason-1/2/3 demonstrated strong capabilities for the continuous and long-term monitoring (starting in 1992) of large and medium-sized water bodies. However, the presence of heterogeneous targets in the altimeter footprint, such as ice cover in boreal areas, remains a major issue to obtain estimates of water level over subarctic lakes of similar accuracy as over other inland water bodies using satellite altimetry (i.e., R >= 0.9 and RMSE <= 10 to 20 cm when compared to in-situ water stages). In this study, we aim to automatically identify the Jason-2 altimetry measurements corresponding to open water, ice and transition (water-ice) to improve the estimations of water level during freeze and thaw periods using only the point measurements of open water. Four Canadian lakes were selected to analyze active (waveform parameters) and passive (brightness temperature) microwave data acquired by the Jason-2 radar altimetry mission: Great Slave Lake, Lake Athabasca, Lake Winnipeg, and Lake of the Woods. To determine lake surface states, backscattering coefficient and peakiness at Ku-band derived from the radar altimeter waveform and brightness temperature at 18.7 and 37 GHz measured by the microwave radiometer contained in the geophysical data records (GDR) of Jason-2 were used in two different unsupervised classification techniques to define the thresholds of discrimination between open water and ice measurements. K-means technique provided better results than hierarchical clustering based upon silhouette criteria and the Calinski-Harabz index. Thresholds of discrimination between ice and water were validated with the Normalized Difference Snow Index (NDSI) snow cover products of the MODIS satellite. The use of open water threshold resulted in improved water level estimation compared to in situ water stages, especially in the presence of ice. For the four lakes, the Pearson coefficient (r) increased on average from about 0.8 without the use of the thresholds to more than 0.90. The unbiased RMSE were generally lower than 20 cm when the threshold of open water was used and more than 22 cm over smaller lakes, without using the thresholds.