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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-2020-27
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-27
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 25 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 25 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Simultaneous estimation of wintertime sea ice thickness and snow depth from space-borne freeboard measurements

Hoyeon Shi1, Byung-Ju Sohn1, Gorm Dybkjær2, Rasmus Tage Tonboe2, and Sang-Moo Lee1,3,4 Hoyeon Shi et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • 2Danish Meteorological Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 3Center for Environmental Technology, ECEE, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 4National Snow and Ice Data Center, CIRES, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Abstract. A method of simultaneously estimating snow depth and sea ice thickness using satellite-based freeboard measurements over the Arctic Ocean during winter was proposed. The ratio of snow depth to ice thickness (referred to as α) was defined and used in constraining the conversion from the freeboard to ice thickness in satellite altimetry. Then, α was empirically determined using the ratio of temperature difference of the snow layer to the difference of the ice layer, to allow the determination of α from satellite-derived snow surface temperature and snow–ice interface temperature. The proposed method was validated against NASA's Operation IceBridge measurements, and comparison results indicated that the algorithm adequately retrieves snow depth and ice thickness simultaneously: retrieved ice thickness was found to be better than the current satellite retrieval methods relying on the use of snow depth climatology as input, in terms of mean bias and RMSE. The application of the proposed method to CryoSat-2 ice freeboard measurements yields similar results. In conclusion, the developed α-based method has the capacity to derive ice thickness and snow depth, without relying on the snow depth information as input to the buoyancy equation for converting freeboard to ice thickness.

Hoyeon Shi et al.

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Latest update: 06 Apr 2020
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Short summary
To estimate sea ice thickness from satellite freeboard measurements, snow depth information has been required, however, the snow depth estimate has been considered largely uncertain. We propose a new method to estimate ice thickness and snow depth simultaneously from sea ice freeboards by imposing a thermodynamic constraint. Obtained ice thickness and snow depth were consistent with airborne measurements, suggesting that uncertainty of ice thickness caused by uncertain snow depth can be reduced.
To estimate sea ice thickness from satellite freeboard measurements, snow depth information has...
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