Dale Winebrenner is interested in the physics of light and radio waves, and, based on those physics, the exploration of icy environments on Earth and elsewhere. For sea ice, he has developed a method of remotely estimating ice thickness during the springtime melting and fall freeze-up transitions on Arctic sea ice, using a tool called synthetic aperture radar. He has shown that the way the thin sea ice looks to the radar depends on its thickness. He has also figured out a way to estimating the biomass of phytoplankton under the ice using estimates of chlorophyll.