Application of Sentinel-2 MSI in Arctic Research: Evaluating the Performance of Atmospheric Correction Approaches Over Arctic Sea Ice

Multispectral remote sensing may be a powerful tool for areal retrieval of biogeophysical parameters in the Arctic sea ice. The MultiSpectral Instrument on board the Sentinel-2 (S-2) satellites of the European Space Agency offers new possibilities for Arctic research; S-2A and S-2B provide 13 spectral bands between 443 and 2,202 nm and spatial resolutions between 10 and 60 m, which may enable the monitoring of large areas of Arctic sea ice. For an accurate retrieval of parameters such as surface albedo, the elimination of atmospheric influences in the data is essential. We therefore provide an evaluation of five currently available atmospheric correction processors for S-2 (ACOLITE, ATCOR, iCOR, Polymer, and Sen2Cor). We evaluate the results of the different processors using in situ spectral measurements of ice and snow and open water gathered north of Svalbard during RV Polarstern cruise PS106.1 in summer 2017. We used spectral shapes to assess performance for ice and snow surfaces. For open water, we additionally evaluated intensities. ACOLITE, ATCOR, and iCOR performed well over sea ice and Polymer generated the best results over open water. ATCOR, iCOR and Sen2Cor failed in the image-based retrieval of atmospheric parameters (aerosol optical thickness, water vapor). ACOLITE estimated AOT within the uncertainty range of AERONET measurements. Parameterization based on external data, therefore, was necessary to obtain reliable results. To illustrate consequences of processor selection on secondary products we computed average surface reflectance of six bands and normalized difference melt index (NDMI) on an image subset. Medians of average reflectance and NDMI range from 0.80–0.97 to 0.12–0.18 while medians for TOA are 0.75 and 0.06, respectively.


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