Randall Scharien

Randall Scharien
Position
Assistant Professor
Remote sensing; cryosphere with specialization in Arctic sea ice
Credentials

PhD (Calgary)

Contact
Office: DTB B122

I joined the Department in the summer of 2014.  Prior to that, I was a European Space Agency Changing Earth Science Network investigator (2013-2014), and a Post-Doctoral fellow at the Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Manitoba (2010-2012).  I completed my PhD in the microwave remote sensing of sea ice from the University of Calgary in 2010.  Throughout my scholarly career I have participated in several major national, and international, multidisciplinary studies focused on polar marine environments.  I have more than 10 years’ experience conducting field research at several high latitude locations, including the Canadian Arctic, the European Arctic, and Antarctica.    

Research

My research work broadly falls within the domains of remote sensing and the cryosphere, with emphasis on the regional scale.  It focuses on the application of microwave remote sensing, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and radar polarimetry to the study of the ice-covered ocean.  Through collaborative efforts, various aspects of ocean-sea ice-climate interactions as they relate to snow and sea ice physical properties and satellite microwave remote sensing are also included.  I carry a long standing interest in the characterization of wind-waves (wave height, shape, spectra) and their effects on electromagnetic signatures.

Currently, my research involves the application of multipolarizaton and fully polarimetric SAR to the retrieval of climatologically relevant parameters associated with the summer Arctic marine environment.  Novel approaches for monitoring sea ice melting state, melt pond fraction on sea ice, and ice/open water fraction are being developed.  Both theoretical and observational approaches are preferred, along with integration of in situ (scatterometer, LiDAR), aerial (helicopter, UAV), and satellite scale data.  My current regional focus is on the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the southern Beaufort Sea.

Teaching

My teaching philosophy is two-fold. First, I believe that my role as an instructor is to provide students with a foundation of the basic principles that govern the topic.  Second, I strive to equip students with the ability to progress as innovators in scientific and technological research. For instance, in my remote sensing course I explicitly present the topic as a relatively new body of research which is undergoing the innovation process.  By doing this, students learn to be flexible in their understanding of research and innovation as a process.  They are made to feel more confident learning and applying fundamental principles when they understand that, as we explore the discipline together, they can participate in a much larger process involving the coming together of small insights into big ideas.

My teaching strategy is based on competence in the discipline. I embrace my responsibility to incorporate current advancements in research and analytical techniques in my curricula, and to convey it to students with an enthusiasm built upon thorough, and highly rewarding, preparation. For example, readings which are relevant and engaging, as well as being appropriate for the expected level of comprehension, are chosen to convey new research and techniques.  These include summaries from “EOS”, “New Scientist”, “IEEE Spectrum” and “Physics Today” for junior undergraduate students, and additional journal publications for senior undergraduate and graduate students.  Dynamic and challenging laboratory exercises are also created to convey current advancements while incorporating core principles.

My approach to student interaction involves maintaining respect for their individual insights and experiences, and supporting a learning environment where individual traits are utilized as contributions to the innovation process.  Students are encouraged, and firmly challenged when needed, to think critically, develop and honour specific goals, and express leadership qualities.  It is important to me that students are able to seed new insights through self-sufficiency and independent thought, while also recognizing the need to accelerate the growth of new ideas through collaboration. I encourage students to initiate idea sharing, problem resolution, and new discoveries by soliciting volunteer article, or blog, writers and moderators within course management software.

In conclusion, I feel the use of modern technologies to aid the learning process, the goal of enabling students to think critically and independently, and the need to equip students to communicate clearly even beyond traditional academic boundaries, are all fundamental requirements of the teacher and not unique to my experience.  Instead, my teaching philosophy is grounded in the innovation process, as is my research.  Naturally, I plan to continually evaluate the effectiveness of this approach by embracing feedback, and evolving it as part of my own learning experience.

Publications

Google Scholar Profile

Scharien, R.K., Landy, J. and Barber, D.G. (2014) 'Sea ice melt pond fraction estimation from dual-polarisation SAR - Part 1: in situ observations' The Cryosphere Discussion 8, 805-844

Scharien, R.K., Hochheim, K., Landy, J. and Barber, D.G. (2014) 'Sea ice melt pond fraction estimation from dual-polarisation SAR - Part 2: Scaling in situ to Radarsat-2 scales' The Cryosphere Discussion 8, 845-885

Asplin, M. G, Scharien, R.K., Else, B., Howell, S., Barber, D.G., Papakyriakou, T. and Prinsenberg, S. (2014) 'Implications of fractured Arctic perennial ice cover on thermodynamic and dynamic sea ice processes' Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans 119(4), 2327-2343

Gupta, M., Scharien, R.K. and Barber, D.G. (2013) 'C-band polarimetric coherences and ratios for discriminating sea ice roughness' International Journal of Oceanography 2013, ID 567182, doi:10.1155/2013/567182

Warner, K., Iacozza, J., Scharien, R.K. and Barber, D.G. (2013) 'On the classification of melt season first-year and multiyear sea ice in the Beaufort Sea using Radarsat-2 data' International Journal of Remote Sensing 34(11), 3760-3774

Gupta, M., Barber, D.G., Isleifson, D. and Scharien, R.K. (2012) 'Detection and classification of surface roughness in an Arctic marginal sea ice zone' Hydrological Processes 23(3), 599-609

Scharien, R.K., Yackel, J.J., Barber, D.G., Asplin, M., Gupta, M. and Islefison, D. (2012) 'Geophysical controls on C band polarimetric backscatter from melt pond covered Arctic first-year sea ice: assessment using high-resolution scatterometry' Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans 117(C9)

Scharien, R.K., Geldsetzer, T., Barber, D.G., Yackel, J.J. and Langlois, A. (2010) 'Physical, dielectric, and C-band microwave scattering properties of first-year sea ice during advanced melt' Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans 115(C12)

Isleifson, D., Hwang, B., Barber, D.G., Scharien, R.K. and Shafai, L. (2010) 'C-Band polarimetric backscattering signatures of newly formed sea ice during fall freeze-up' IEEE Transactions in Geoscience and Remote Sensing 48(8), 3256-3267

Langlois, A., Scharien, R.K., Geldsetzer, T., Iacozza, J., Barber, D.G. and Yackel, J.J. (2008) 'Estimation of snow water equivalent over first‐year sea ice using AMSR‐E and surface observations' Remote Sensing of Environment 112(9), 3657-3667

Geldsetzer, T., Mead, J.B., Yackel, J.J., Scharien, R.K. and Howell, S.E.L. (2007) ‘Surface-based polarimetric C-band scatterometer for field measurements of sea ice’ IEEE Transactions in Geoscience and Remote Sensing 45(11)

Kuzyk, Z.Z., Macdonald, R.W., Granskog, M.A., Scharien, R.K., Galley, R.J., Michel, C., Barber, D.G. and Stern, G. (2007) ‘Sea ice, hydrological, and biological processes in the Churchill River estuary region, Hudson Bay’ Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 77(3), 369-384

Scharien, R.K., Yackel, J.J., Granskog, M.A. and Else, B.G.T. (2007) ‘Coincident high resolution optical-SAR image analysis for surface albedo estimation of first-year sea ice during summer melt’ Remote Sensing of Environment 111(2-3), 160-171

Howell, S.E.L., Tivy, A., Yackel, J.J. and Scharien, R.K. (2006) ‘Application of a SeaWinds/QuikSCAT sea ice melt algorithm for assessing melt dynamics in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago’ Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans 111(C7)

Scharien, R.K. and Yackel, J.J. (2005) ‘Analysis of surface roughness and morphology of first‐year sea ice melt ponds: implications for microwave scattering’ IEEE Transactions in Geoscience and Remote Sensing 43(12)


Conferences (First-Author Only):

Scharien, R.K., Landy, J. and Barber, D.G. (2013) ‘Sea ice melting state and surface albedo from C-band radar: analysis of dual-polarization and polarimetric techniques’ ESA Living Planet Symposium, Edinburgh, UK - Oral Presentation

Scharien, R.K. and Barber, D.G. (2013) ‘On the wind-wave roughness of melt ponds on first-year sea ice’ ESA Living Planet Symposium, Edinburgh, UK - Poster Presentation

Scharien, R.K., Gupta, M. and Barber, D.G. (2013) ‘Towards an understanding of the polarimetric response of decaying sea ice using C-band radar measurements’ PolinSAR: 6th International Workshop on Science and Applications of SAR Polarimetry and Polarimetric Interferometry, Frascati (Rome), Italy - Poster Presentation

Scharien, R.K., Landy, J. and Barber, D.G. (2012) ‘Spring-summer first-year sea ice geophysical and biophysical information from polarimetric C-band radar: early results’ Earth Observation and Cryosphere Science Conference, Frascati (Rome), Italy - Poster Presentation

Scharien, R.K., Barber,D.G.,  Yackel, J.J., Hochheim, K., Gill, J.V., Asplin, M., Gupta, M. and Isleifson, D. (2012) ‘On the potential of spaceborne polarimetric C-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for regional scale summer Arctic sea ice bio- or geophysical information retrieval’ IPY Conference, Montreal, Canada - Oral Presentation

Scharien, R.K., Yackel, J.J. and Barber, D.G. (2010) ‘C-band dual-pol and polarimetric radar signatures of first-year sea ice during advanced melt’ 31st Symposium on Canadian Remote Sensing – The Prairie Summit, Regina, Canada - Oral Presentation

Scharien, R.K. and Yackel, J.J. (2009) ‘Analysis of C-band polarimetric radar backscatter from melt pond covered first-year sea ice’ IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, Cape Town, South Africa - Oral Presentation

Scharien, R.K., Geldsetzer, T. and Yackel, J.J. (2008) ‘Inversion of sea ice properties using polarimetric radar’ IMPETUS: Polar Observation and Monitoring Workshop, St. Petersburg, Russia - Poster Presentation (Best Poster award)

Scharien, R.K. (2008) ‘On the utility of spaceborne C-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for detecting surface albedo of first-year sea ice during summer melt’ 45th Department of Geography Annual Conference, Calgary, Alberta - Oral Presentation

Scharien, R.K., Yackel, J.J. and Else, B.G. (2007) ‘An examination of sea ice melt pond processes from ENVISAT‐ASAR data using object‐based image analysis’ Annual Conference of the Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Society, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK - Oral Presentation

Scharien, R.K., Yackel, J.J. and Geldsetzer, T. (2006) ‘C-band polarimetric scatterometer studies over landfast first-year sea ice in the Canadian Arctic during spring-summer melt’ RADARSAT-2 Symposium, Saint-Hubert, Quebec - Poster Presentation

Scharien, R.K. (2006) ‘Satellite and in-situ microwave remote sensing of Arctic sea ice’ Colloquium of the Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK - Oral Presentation.

Scharien, R.K. and Yackel, J.J. (2005) ‘Comparison of texture from multi-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and in situ data for surface state estimation of decaying landfast first-year sea ice’ ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting, Banff, Alberta - Poster Presentation

Scharien, R.K. and Yackel, J.J. (2004) ‘Analyses of C-band microwave backscatter to wind-roughened first-year sea ice melt ponds’ IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, Anchorage, Alaska - Poster Presentation

Scharien, R.K. and Yackel, J.J. (2003) ‘Relating wind velocity, sea ice melt pond morphology, and melt pond surface roughness over Arctic first-year sea ice to observed RADARSAT-1 Standard Beam Mode backscatter’ Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society 37th Congress, Ottawa, Ontario - Poster Presentation

Scharien, R.K. and Yackel, J.J. (2003) ‘An approach for quantifying melt ponded first-year sea ice surface roughness: implications for microwave scattering’ 8th Annual CRYSYS Meeting, Montreal, Quebec - Poster Presentation

Scharien, R.K., Yackel, J.J. and Barber, D.G. (2002) ‘On the relationship between wind speed, seasonal melt pond evolution and SAR scattering’ IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, Toronto, Ontario - Poster Presentation

Scharien, R.K. (2002) ‘Sea ice, RADARSAT-1, and Arctic climate processes’ Alberta Glaciology Summit, Kananaskis, Alberta - Oral Presentation

Scharien, R.K. and Barber, D.G. (2001) ‘A comparison of the NASA Team algorithm derived SSM/I sea-ice concentration against RADARSAT-1 over the North Water Polynya for 1998’ 6th Annual CRYSYS Meeting, Edmonton, Alberta - Poster Presentation

Scharien, R.K., Barber, D.G. and Mundy, C.J. (2000) ‘Validation of SSM/I sea ice type and concentration algorithms using RADARSAT-1 imagery over the North Water (NOW) Polynya’ 5th Annual CRYSYS Meeting, Winnipeg, Manitoba - Poster Presentation