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Antarctic sea-ice thickness retrieval from ICESat: inter-comparison of different approaches


Kern, S and Ozsoy-Cicek, B and Worby, AP, Antarctic sea-ice thickness retrieval from ICESat: inter-comparison of different approaches, Remote Sensing, 8, (7) Article 538. ISSN 2072-4292 (2016) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Author(s) Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.3390/rs8070538


Accurate circum-Antarctic sea-ice thickness is urgently required to better understand the different sea-ice cover evolution in both polar regions. Satellite radar and laser altimetry are currently the most promising tools for sea-ice thickness retrieval. We present qualitative inter-comparisons of winter and spring circum-Antarctic sea-ice thickness computed with different approaches from Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) laser altimeter total (sea ice plus snow) freeboard estimates. We find that approach A, which assumes total freeboard equals snow depth, and approach B, which uses empirical linear relationships between freeboard and thickness, provide the lowest sea-ice thickness and the smallest winter-to-spring increase in seasonal average modal and mean sea-ice thickness: A: 0.0 m and 0.04 m, B: 0.17 and 0.16 m, respectively. Approach C uses contemporary snow depth from satellite microwave radiometry, and we derive comparably large sea-ice thickness. Here we observe an unrealistically large winter-to-spring increase in seasonal average modal and mean sea-ice thickness of 0.68 m and 0.65 m, respectively, which we attribute to biases in the snow depth. We present a conceptually new approach D. It assumes that the two-layer system (sea ice, snow) can be represented by one layer. This layer has a modified density, which takes into account the influence of the snow on sea-ice buoyancy. With approach D we obtain thickness values and a winter-to-spring increase in average modal and mean sea-ice thickness of 0.17 m and 0.23 m, respectively, which lay between those of approaches B and C. We discuss retrieval uncertainty, systematic uncertainty sources, and the impact of grid resolution. We find that sea-ice thickness obtained with approaches C and D agrees best with independent sea-ice thickness information - if we take into account the potential bias of in situ and ship-based observations.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:sea ice, snow satellite remote sensing, Antarctic, laser altimetry, microwave radiometry, inter-comparison
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Effects of climate change on Antarctic and sub-Antarctic environments (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Worby, AP (Professor Anthony Worby)
ID Code:114858
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:22
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2017-03-01
Last Modified:2017-10-30
Downloads:164 View Download Statistics

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