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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-103
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
15 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
Inter-comparison of snow depth retrievals over Arctic sea ice from radar data acquired by Operation IceBridge
Ron Kwok1, Nathan T. Kurtz2, Ludovic Brucker2, Alvaro Ivanoff3, Thomas Newman4, Sinead L. Farrell5,6, Joshua King7, Stephen Howell7, Melinda A. Webster2, John Paden8, Carl Leuschen8, Joseph A. Macgregor2, Jacqueline Richter-Menge9, Jeremy Harbeck3, and Mark Tschudi10 1Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
2Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
3ADNET Systems Inc., Lanham, MD, USA
4University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
5Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA
6Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry, Satellite Oceanography and Climatology Division, NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, College Park, Maryland, USA
7Climate Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
8Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA
9University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
10University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Abstract. Since 2009, the ultra-wideband snow-radar on Operation IceBridge has acquired data in annual campaigns conducted during the Arctic and Antarctic springs. Progressive improvements in radar hardware and data processing methodologies have led to improved data quality for subsequent retrieval of snow depth. Existing retrieval algorithms differ in the way the air-snow and snow-ice interfaces are detected and localized in the radar returns, and in how the system limitations are addressed (e.g., noise, resolution). In 2014, the Snow Thickness On Sea Ice Working Group (STOSIWG) was formed and tasked with investigating how radar data quality affect snow depth retrievals and how retrievals from the various algorithms differ. The goal is to understand the limitations of the estimates and to produce a well-documented, long-term record that can be used for understanding broader changes in the Arctic climate system. Here, we assess five retrieval algorithms by comparisons with field measurements from two ground-based campaigns, including the BRomine Ozone Mercury EXperiment (BROMEX) at Barrow, Alaska and a field program by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) at Eureka, Nunavut, available climatology and snowfall from ERA-Interim reanalysis. The aim is to examine available algorithms and to use the assessment results to inform the development of future approaches. We present results from these assessments and highlight key considerations for the production of a long-term, calibrated geophysical record of springtime snow thickness over Arctic sea ice.

Citation: Kwok, R., Kurtz, N. T., Brucker, L., Ivanoff, A., Newman, T., Farrell, S. L., King, J., Howell, S., Webster, M. A., Paden, J., Leuschen, C., Macgregor, J. A., Richter-Menge, J., Harbeck, J., and Tschudi, M.: Inter-comparison of snow depth retrievals over Arctic sea ice from radar data acquired by Operation IceBridge, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-103, in review, 2017.
Ron Kwok et al.
Ron Kwok et al.
Ron Kwok et al.

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Short summary
Since 2009, the ultra-wideband snow-radar on Operation IceBridge has acquired data in annual campaigns conducted during the Arctic and Antarctic springs. Existing snow depth retrieval algorithms differ in the way the air-snow and snow-ice interfaces are detected and localized in the radar returns, and in how the system limitations are addressed. Here, we assess five retrieval algorithms by comparisons with field measurements, ground-based campaigns, and analysed fields of snow depth.
Since 2009, the ultra-wideband snow-radar on Operation IceBridge has acquired data in annual...
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