Articles | Volume 7, issue 4
The Cryosphere, 7, 1035–1056, 2013
The Cryosphere, 7, 1035–1056, 2013

Research article 04 Jul 2013

Research article | 04 Jul 2013

Sea ice thickness, freeboard, and snow depth products from Operation IceBridge airborne data

N. T. Kurtz1,2, S. L. Farrell3, M. Studinger2, N. Galin4, J. P. Harbeck2,5, R. Lindsay6, V. D. Onana2,5, B. Panzer7, and J. G. Sonntag2,8 N. T. Kurtz et al.
  • 1Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD, USA
  • 2Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 3Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
  • 4University College London, London, UK
  • 5ADNET Systems Inc., Lanham, MD, USA
  • 6Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
  • 7Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA
  • 8EG&G Technical Services/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA, USA

Abstract. The study of sea ice using airborne remote sensing platforms provides unique capabilities to measure a wide variety of sea ice properties. These measurements are useful for a variety of topics including model evaluation and improvement, assessment of satellite retrievals, and incorporation into climate data records for analysis of interannual variability and long-term trends in sea ice properties. In this paper we describe methods for the retrieval of sea ice thickness, freeboard, and snow depth using data from a multi-sensor suite of instruments on NASA's Operation IceBridge airborne campaign. We assess the consistency of the results through comparison with independent data sets that demonstrate that the IceBridge products are capable of providing a reliable record of snow depth and sea ice thickness. We explore the impact of inter-campaign instrument changes and associated algorithm adaptations as well as the applicability of the adapted algorithms to the ongoing IceBridge mission. The uncertainties associated with the retrieval methods are determined and placed in the context of their impact on the retrieved sea ice thickness. Lastly, we present results for the 2009 and 2010 IceBridge campaigns, which are currently available in product form via the National Snow and Ice Data Center.