Georg Heyster, Lars Kaleschke, September 2002.

The First AMSR-E 89 GHz Sea Ice Images

Two new passive microwave sensors AMSR and AMSR-E,  both developed by the National Space Agency of Japan (NASDA),  with improved resolution and additional channels at 6 and 10 GHz are currently near launch:

The instantaneous field-of-view (IFOV) of the various obervation frequencies of the both instruments AMSR and AMSR-E is two to three times finer than that of the corresonding SSM/I channels.

(km x km)
74 x 43
51 x 30 
27 x 16
31 x 18
14 x 8
6 x 4
(km x km)
10 x 10
10 x 10
10 x 10
10 x 10
10 x 10
5 x 5

We are using the ARTIST Sea Ice algorithm (ASI) to estimate the ice concentrations from the 89 GHz AMSR-E and from the 85 GHz SSM/I data (shown below).  The AMSR-E results are preliminary because (1) AMSR-E is still in the calibration phase, (2)  they have been produced with the ASI algorithm fine tuned for for the SSM/I frequencies, and (3) slight changes in the results are to be expecting from adapting the ASI algorithm and the NASA TEAM algorithm (involved in the ASI algorithm) fully to the AMSR(-E) frequencies.

When comparing the AMSR-E and SSM/I based sea ice images,  the most important differences are:

Images from the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard the EOS Terra satellite are shown for comparison. The MODIS images are at 1km resolution. The Channels 1(R), 3(G) and 4(B) are in the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Note that the MODIS images are not in the same projection as the passive microwave data.
All data were recorded on 17 July 2002. Svalbard can be seen on the left and Novaya Semlya on the right hand side of the images.


The AMSR-E is of particular importance for sea ice remote sensing. The spatial resolution of the data is finer and the weather influence is lower. The additional channels will allow the estimation of ice temperature and snow depth over ice.

6.25 km Resolution Total Sea Ice Concentration from AMSR-E 89 GHz.

12.5 km Resolution Total Sea Ice Concentration from SSM/I 85 GHz.


1 km Resolution MODIS Image. Channel 1-3-4.

In future, the AMSR(-E) data will be distributed in two way:

The priliminary AMSR-E data have been provided by the National Space Development Agency of Japan as part of a cooperation agreement with the University of Bremen, PI Georg Heygster.
The SSM/I data have provided by the GHRC
MODIS images have been obtained from