Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
The Cryosphere, 6, 479–491, 2012
The Cryosphere, 6, 479–491, 2012

Research article 11 Apr 2012

Research article | 11 Apr 2012

Albedo of the ice covered Weddell and Bellingshausen Seas

A. I. Weiss, J. C. King, T. A. Lachlan-Cope, and R. S. Ladkin A. I. Weiss et al.
  • British Antarctic Survey, National Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK

Abstract. This study investigates the surface albedo of the sea ice areas adjacent to the Antarctic Peninsula during the austral summer. Aircraft measurements of the surface albedo, which were conducted in the sea ice areas of the Weddell and Bellingshausen Seas show significant differences between these two regions. The averaged surface albedo varied between 0.13 and 0.81. The ice cover of the Bellingshausen Sea consisted mainly of first year ice and the sea surface showed an averaged sea ice albedo of αi = 0.64 ± 0.2 (± standard deviation). The mean sea ice albedo of the pack ice area in the western Weddell Sea was αi = 0.75 ± 0.05. In the southern Weddell Sea, where new, young sea ice prevailed, a mean albedo value of αi = 0.38 ± 0.08 was observed. Relatively warm open water and thin, newly formed ice had the lowest albedo values, whereas relatively cold and snow covered pack ice had the highest albedo values. All sea ice areas consisted of a mixture of a large range of different sea ice types. An investigation of commonly used parameterizations of albedo as a function of surface temperature in the Weddell and Bellingshausen Sea ice areas showed that the albedo parameterizations do not work well for areas with new, young ice.