A campaign recently carried out in Finland, has yielded the first images of snow using an airborne radar that operates at the same wavelengths proposed for European Space Agency’s CoReH2O satellite.
These results help pave the way to understanding how radar could map the water content of snow from space. The field campaign forms part of the activities supporting the development of the Cold Regions Hydrology High-resolution Observatory (CoReH2O) mission. This is one of three candidate Earth Explorers now undergoing feasibility study.
If selected as ESA’s seventh Earth Explorer, CoReH2O would employ twin frequency synthetic aperture radars (SARs) to acquire accurate all-weather, year-round measurements of the amount of water held in snow and ice.
This information aims to help improve understanding of the effect that climate change is having on the distribution of snow and ice and how this, in turn, is influencing the water cycle and various feedback systems.
The recent campaign in northern Finland, part of Lapland, used a new airborne instrument called SnowSAR, developed for ESA to mimic the CoReH2O radar.
Dr Adriano Meta, Director of MetaSensing, said, “The design of the SAR system was a new challenge for us. It had to operate in a coherent polarimetric mode at both X- and Ku-bands and with high radiometric resolution and accuracy, and work in Arctic conditions.”