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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-317
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-317
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 20 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

The Arctic Ocean Observation Operator for 6.9 GHz (ARC3O) – Part 1: How to obtain sea-ice brightness temperatures at 6.9 GHz from climate model output

Clara Burgard1,2, Dirk Notz1,3, Leif T. Pedersen4, and Rasmus T. Tonboe5 Clara Burgard et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2International Max Planck Research School for Earth System Modelling, Hamburg, Germany
  • 3Institute of Oceanography, Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • 4National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
  • 5Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract. We explore the feasibility of an observation operator producing passive microwave brightness temperatures for sea ice at a frequency of 6.9 GHz. We investigate the influence of simplifying assumptions for the representation of sea-ice vertical properties on the simulation of microwave brightness temperatures. We do so in a one-dimensional setup, using a complex 1D thermodynamic sea-ice model and a 1D microwave emission model. We find that realistic brightness temperatures can be simulated in winter from a simplified linear temperature profile and a self-similar salinity profile in the ice. These realistic brightness temperatures can be obtained based on profiles interpolated to as few as five layers. Most of the uncertainty resulting from the simplifications is introduced by the simplification of the salinity profiles. In summer, the simplified salinity profile leads to too high liquid water fractions at the surface. To overcome this limitation, we suggest using a constant brightness temperature for the ice during summer and to treat melt ponds as water surfaces. Finally, in our setup, we cannot assess the effect of snow properties during melting. As periods of melting snow with intermediate moisture content typically last for less than a month, our approach allows one to estimate reasonable brightness temperatures at 6.9 GHz from climate model output for about 11 months throughout the year.

Clara Burgard et al.

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Clara Burgard et al.

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Latest update: 27 May 2020
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Short summary
The high disagreement between observations of Arctic sea ice makes it difficult to evaluate climate models with observations. We investigate the possibility of translating the model state into what a satellite could observe, especially applied to sea ice. We find that we do not need complex information about the vertical distribution of temperature and salinity inside the ice, but rather can assume simplified distributions, to reasonably translate the simulated sea ice into satellite language.
The high disagreement between observations of Arctic sea ice makes it difficult to evaluate...
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