Opportunistic evaluation of modelled sea ice drift using passively drifting telemetry collars in Hudson Bay, Canada

Togunov, Ron R.; Klappstein, Natasha J.; Lunn, Nicholas J.; Derocher, Andrew E.; Auger-Méthé, Marie

Sea ice drift plays a central role in the Arctic climate and ecology through its effects on the ice cover, thermodynamics, and energetics of northern marine ecosystems. Due to the challenges of accessing the Arctic, remote sensing has been used to obtain large-scale longitudinal data. These data are often associated with errors and biases that must be considered when incorporated into research. However, obtaining reference data for validation is often prohibitively expensive or practically unfeasible. We used the motion of 20 passively drifting high-accuracy GPS telemetry collars originally deployed on polar bears, Ursus maritimus, in western Hudson Bay, Canada, to validate a widely used sea ice drift dataset produced by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Our results showed that the NSIDC model tended to underestimate the horizontal and vertical (i.e., inline-formulau and inline-formulav) components of drift. Consequently, the NSIDC model underestimated magnitude of drift, particularly at high ice speeds. Modelled drift direction was unbiased; however, it was less precise at lower drift speeds. Research using these drift data should consider integrating these biases into their analyses, particularly where absolute ground speed or direction is necessary. Further investigation is required into the sources of error, particularly in under-examined areas without in situ data.

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Togunov, Ron R. / Klappstein, Natasha J. / Lunn, Nicholas J. / et al: Opportunistic evaluation of modelled sea ice drift using passively drifting telemetry collars in Hudson Bay, Canada. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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