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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-48
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-48
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 03 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 03 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

A comparison between Envisat and ICESat sea ice thickness in the Antarctic

Jinfei Wang1,2, Chao Min1,2, Robert Ricker3, Qinghua Yang1,2, Qian Shi1,2, Bo Han1,2, and Stefan Hendricks3 Jinfei Wang et al.
  • 1School of Atmospheric Sciences and Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Climate Change and Natural Disaster Studies, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai 519082, China
  • 2Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai), Zhuhai 519082, China
  • 3Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven 27570, Germany

Abstract. The crucial role that Antarctic sea ice plays in the global climate system is strongly linked to its thickness. While in situ observations are too sparse in the Antarctic to determine long-term trends of the Antarctic sea ice thickness on a global scale, satellite radar altimetry data can be applied with a promising prospect. A newly released Envisat-derived product from the European Space Agency Sea Ice Climate Change Initiative (ESA SICCI), including sea ice freeboard and sea ice thickness, covers the entire Antarctic year-round from 2002 to 2012. In this study, the SICCI Envisat sea ice thickness in the Antarctic is firstly compared with a conceptually new proposed ICESat ice thickness that has been derived from an algorithm employing modified ice density. Both data sets have been validated with the Weddell Sea upward looking sonar measurements (ULS), indicating that ICESat agrees better with field observations. The inter-comparisons are conducted for three seasons except winter based on the ICESat operating periods. According to the results, the deviations between Envisat and ICESat sea ice thickness are different considering different seasons, years and regions. More specifically, the smallest average deviation between Envisat and ICESat sea ice thickness exists in spring by −0.03 m while larger deviations exist in summer and autumn by 0.86 m and 0.62 m, respectively. Although the smallest absolute deviation occurs in spring 2005 by 0.02 m, the largest correlation coefficient appears in autumn 2004 by 0.77. The largest positive deviation occurs in the western Weddell Sea by 1.03 m in summer while the largest negative deviation occurs in the Eastern Antarctic by −0.25 m in spring. Potential reasons for those deviations mainly deduce from the limitations of Envisat radar altimeter affected by the weather conditions and the surface roughness as well as the different retrieval algorithms. The better performance in spring of Envisat has a potential relation with relative humidity.

Jinfei Wang et al.

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Short summary
To get a better understanding of the characteristics of the newly-released Envisat sea ice data in the Antarctic, we firstly conduct a comprehensive comparison between Envisat and ICESat sea ice thickness. Their deviations are different considering different seasons, years and regions. Potential reasons mainly deduce from the limitations of radar altimeter, the surface roughness and different retrieval algorithms. The smaller deviation in spring has a potential relation with relative humidity.
To get a better understanding of the characteristics of the newly-released Envisat sea ice data...
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