Applications of passive microwave satellite data to arctic sea ice studies
Wright, William Archer
Nystuen, Jeffrey A.
Bourke, Robert H.
Thorndike, Alan S.
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Passive microwave satellite data provides all-weather, continuous observations of the polar ice cover. Multichannel radiometer data sets extending back to 1978 are readily available and distributed on CD-ROM media. Current algorithms can extract information on ice cover, concentration and type. Two applications of these data sets for polar studies are explored: 1) the possible detection of altered ice morphology due to anomalous tidal currents in the Yermak Plateau region; and 2) the tracking of multiyear ice features to infer ice motion. No evidence of altered ice morphology in the Yermak Plateau region was detected. Either the reported anomalous currents do not affect ice morphology or the limitations inherent to passive microwave imagery (poor spatial resolution) prevent detection. On the other hand, distinct multiyear ice features are observed to move in the direction of mean ice flow and are well correlated with the motion of nearby data buoys. Short term ice motion vectors are unreliable because of the low spatial resolution of the passive microwave data. However, long term averages are indicative of ice flow trajectories and can be used, for example, to increase our knowledge of the interannual variability of heat and salinity budgets in specific regions, including Fram Strait, the principal outflow region of the arctic basin.
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