Decadal Variation in Surface Characteristics over Xinjiang, Western China, from T/P Altimetry Backscatter Coefficients: Evidence of Climate Change


The backscatter coefficient, known as sigma0, is an important measurement of satellite radar altimetry and a key parameter for land altimetry because of its close relationship with the physical properties and geometric features of land coverage under global/regional climate change effects. Using the TOPEX/Poseidon GDR-M dataset from January 1993 to December 2004, we study the spatial and temporal distribution of sigma0 at bands Ku and C over Xinjiang, western China. The results show that the sigma0 is influenced by the water distribution over land and the time evolution of sigma0 has clear seasonal changes. River basins or deserts are classified over the spatial distribution based on different sigma0 values. For example, high sigma0 values are found in the Tarim River Basin and low values are found in the Taklimakan Desert. The periodic components of sigma0 time series are determined using the fast Fourier transformation method. The annual variation is the dominating cycle and the semi-annual variation is the secondary signal. The amplitudes of sigma0 time series at bands Ku and C are also given and most areas have quite low amplitudes except for the Tarim River Basin. Several areas including the Tarim River Basin, Tianshan Mountain and Taklimakan Desert are selected for sigma0 time series spacial analysis to discuss the reasons for variations in sigma0. The main factors are precipitation and vegetation growth, which are affected by the global/regional climate change. The correlation between the brightness temperature, which is related to the water-vapor content in the atmosphere measured by TMR at the 21 GHz channel and sigma0 at two bands, is analyzed.

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Published by The Chinese Geoscience Union