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Assessing the Impact of Lead and Floe Sampling on Arctic Sea Ice Thickness Estimates from Envisat and CryoSat‐2

Tilling, R; Ridout, A; Shepherd, A; (2019) Assessing the Impact of Lead and Floe Sampling on Arctic Sea Ice Thickness Estimates from Envisat and CryoSat‐2. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans , 124 (11) pp. 7473-7485. 10.1029/2019JC015232. Green open access

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Abstract

Multidecadal observations of sea ice thickness, in addition to those available for extent, are key to understanding long‐term variations and trends in the amount of Arctic sea ice. The European Space Agency's Envisat (2002–2010) and CryoSat‐2 (2010–present) satellite radar altimeter missions provide a continuous 17‐year dataset with the potential to estimate sea ice thickness. However, the satellite footprints are not equal in area and so different distributions of floes and leads are sampled by each mission. Here, we compare lead and floe sampling from Envisat and CryoSat‐2 to investigate the impact of geometric sampling differences on Arctic sea ice thickness estimates. We find that Envisat preferentially samples wider, thicker sea ice floes, and that floes in less consolidated ice regions are effectively thickened by off‐nadir ranging to leads. Consequently, Envisat sea ice thicknesses that are an average of 80 cm higher than CryoSat‐2 over first‐year ice and 23 cm higher over multiyear ice. By considering the along‐track distances between lead and floe measurements, we are able to develop a sea ice thickness correction that is based on Envisat's inability to resolve discrete surfaces relative to CryoSat‐2. This is a novel, physically based approach to addressing the bias between the satellites and reduces the average thickness difference to negligible values over first‐year and multiyear ice. Finally, we evaluate our new bias‐corrected Envisat sea ice thickness product using independent airborne, moored‐buoy and submarine data. The European Space Agency's Envisat and CryoSat‐2 satellites have the potential to produce a continuous record of Arctic sea ice thickness since 2002, but this is complicated by the fact that the satellites do not sample the sea ice surface in the same way. We find that Envisat is only able to sample larger, thicker sea ice relative to CryoSat‐2, because of its poorer resolution. In this paper we account for these differences in sampling to combine Arctic sea ice thickness estimates from two the satellite missions. Applying a sea ice thickness bias correction to Envisat data reduces the ice thickness difference between Envisat and CryoSat‐2 from an average of 53.0 to 0.5 cm

Type: Article
Title: Assessing the Impact of Lead and Floe Sampling on Arctic Sea Ice Thickness Estimates from Envisat and CryoSat‐2
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1029/2019JC015232
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1029/2019JC015232
Language: English
Additional information: © 2019. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10086592
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