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Azimuth dependence of a normalized radar cross-section (σº) over the Greenland ice sheet is modeled with a simple surface scattering model. The model assumes that azimuth anisotropy in surface roughness at scales of 3–300 m is the primary mechanism driving the modulation. To evaluate the contribution of azimuth anisotropy in surface roughness to the radar backscatter, the model is compared to models based on isotropic surface roughness. The models are inverted to estimate snow surface properties using σº measurements from the C-band European Remote-sensing Satellite advanced microwave instrument in scatterometer mode. Results indicate that the largest mesoscale rms surface slopes are found in the lower portions of the dry snow zone. Estimates of the preferential direction in surface roughness are highly correlated with katabatic wind fields over Greenland, which is consistent with wind-formed sastrugi as the dominant mechanism causing azimuth modulation of σº. The maximum improvement of the azimuth modulation surface model compared to its isotropic counterparts occurs in the lower regions of the dry snow zone where the azimuth variability of σº is the largest. In regions with azimuth modulation over 1 dB, the mean root-mean-square error estimate of the azimuth-dependent surface scattering model is 0.46 dB compared with 0.70 dB for similar models using isotropic roughness.
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