frozen lake.jpg


Lake ice thickness has been identified as an Essential Climate Variable (ECV) by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). However, ground-based measurements of lake ice thickness are sparse in both space and time, and the number of sites where such measurements are made has dramatically decreased over the last two to three decades in many northern countries. In light of this and in support of GCOS, there is an urgent need to develop ice thickness products from satellite observations. Altimetry missions could play an important role in this respect, allowing for systematic measurements of ice thickness for many lakes of the globe.

The goal of this 12-month project (June 2020-June 2021) is to pave the way for robust retrievals of lake ice thickness from satellite altimetry missions, supported by a thermodynamics lake ice model and Snow Microwave Radiative Transfer (SMRT) model. SMRT has recently been revised to include lake ice. Known under the acronym of LIAM (Lake Ice from Altimetry Missions), the project is investigating the sensitivity of radar backscatter and brightness temperature data collected by satellite altimetry missions to lake ice and on-ice snow properties.

Project team

Screen Shot 2020-08-07 at 2.25.21 PM.png

H2O Geomatics Inc. 

(Prime), Canada

Institut des Géosciences de l'Environnement (IGE), Université Grenoble Alpes, France

Ocean Next,


Project deliverables


Technical/Scientific Report



Mid-Term Review



Final Report 


Presentations and publications

Duguay, C.R., G. Picard, E.A. Zakharova, J. Murfitt, M. Restano, and J. Benveniste, 2020. Sensitivity of backscatter and brightness temperature measurements from satellite radar altimetry missions to lake ice thickness. AGU 2020 Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California, 1-17 December. Abstract submitted.