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Remote Sens. 2013, 5(8), 4006-4030; doi:10.3390/rs5084006

Physical Reflectivity and Polarization Characteristics for Snow and Ice-Covered Surfaces Interacting with GPS Signals

1
Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200030, China
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 May 2013 / Revised: 22 July 2013 / Accepted: 23 July 2013 / Published: 9 August 2013

Abstract

The Global Positioning System (GPS) reflected signal has been demonstrated to remotely sense the oceans, land surfaces and the cryosphere, including measuring snow depth, soil moisture, vegetation growth and wind direction. Since the Earth surface’s characteristics are very complex, the surface reflectivity process and interaction with GPS signals is not well understood. In this study, we investigate the surface’s reflectivity and variability of snow and ice surfaces interacting with GPS L1 and L2 signals in order to retrieve multipath signals and infer surface characteristics by using the direct and reflected polarizations of each signal. Firstly, the effects of both GPS satellite elevation angle and GPS receiver’s antenna height variations on the multipath signal variability have been investigated by numerical formulations. Secondly, the specular reflection coefficients’ features and the total surface polarization for liquid and solid surfaces are discussed. Moreover, the linear polarization and circular polarizations (co-polarized and cross-polarized) as well as their corresponding convolution functions are developed horizontally and vertically. The results show that the multipath signals are more sensitive to the satellite elevation angle variations than to changes in the GPS receiver’s antenna height. The convolution function demonstrates that the snowy surface has a minimum reflectance in circular polarization but maximum reflectance in linear polarization. GPS signals reflecting from an ice-covered surface show a maximum value in circular polarization reflectance and a minimum for linear polarization reflectance. Moreover, the values for reflection from soils are between those for snow and ice in all polarization types. The placement of soil surface reflectance values between snowy and icy surface ones may be noteworthy in new remote sensing applications.
Keywords: snow; ice; reflectivity; polarization; GPS antenna height; satellite elevation angle; convolution function snow; ice; reflectivity; polarization; GPS antenna height; satellite elevation angle; convolution function
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Najibi, N.; Jin, S. Physical Reflectivity and Polarization Characteristics for Snow and Ice-Covered Surfaces Interacting with GPS Signals. Remote Sens. 2013, 5, 4006-4030.

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