Assessment of contemporary satellite sea ice thickness products for Arctic sea ice

Sallila, Heidi; Farrell, Sinéad Louise; McCurry, Joshua; Rinne, Eero

Advances in remote sensing of sea ice over the past two decades have resulted in a wide variety of satellite-derived sea ice thickness data products becoming publicly available. Selecting the most appropriate product is challenging given end user objectives range from incorporating satellite-derived thickness information in operational activities, including sea ice forecasting, routing of maritime traffic and search and rescue, to climate change analysis, longer-term modelling, prediction and future planning. Depending on the use case, selecting the most suitable satellite data product can depend on the region of interest, data latency, and whether the data are provided routinely, for example via a climate or maritime service provider. Here we examine a suite of current sea ice thickness data products, collating key details of primary interest to end users. We assess 8 years of sea ice thickness observations derived from sensors on board the CryoSat-2 (CS2), Advanced Very-High-Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellites. We evaluate the satellite-only observations with independent ice draft and thickness measurements obtained from the Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project (BGEP) upward looking sonar (ULS) instruments and Operation IceBridge (OIB), respectively. We find a number of key differences among data products but find that products utilizing CS2-only measurements are reliable for sea ice thickness, particularly between ∼0.5 and 4 m. Among data compared, a blended CS2-SMOS product was the most reliable for thin ice. Ice thickness distributions at the end of winter appeared realistic when compared with independent ice draft measurements, with the exception of those derived from AVHRR. There is disagreement among the products in terms of the magnitude of the mean thickness trends, especially in spring 2017. Regional comparisons reveal noticeable differences in ice thickness between products, particularly in the marginal seas in areas of considerable ship traffic.

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Sallila, Heidi / Farrell, Sinéad Louise / McCurry, Joshua / et al: Assessment of contemporary satellite sea ice thickness products for Arctic sea ice. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Heidi Sallila et al.

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