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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-2020-171
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-171
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  02 Jul 2020

02 Jul 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Spring melt pond fraction in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago predicted from RADARSAT-2

Stephen Edward Lee Howell1, Randall Kenneth Scharien2, Jack Landy3, and Mike Brady1 Stephen Edward Lee Howell et al.
  • 1Climate Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, M3H 5T4, Canada
  • 2Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Victoria, V8W 2Y2, Canada
  • 3School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1QU, United Kingdom

Abstract. Melt ponds form on the surface of Arctic sea ice during spring, influencing how much solar radiation is absorbed into the sea ice-ocean system, which in turn impacts the ablation of sea ice during the melt season. Accordingly, melt pond fraction (fp) has been shown to be a useful predictor of sea ice area during the summer months. Sea ice dynamic and thermodynamic processes operating within the narrow channels and inlets of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) during the summer months are difficult for model simulations to accurately resolve. Additional information on fp variability in advance of the melt season within the CAA could help constrain model simulations and/or provide useful information in advance of the shipping season. Here, we use RADARSAT-2 imagery to predict and analyze peak spring fp and evaluate its utility to provide predictive information with respect to sea ice area during the melt season within the CAA from 2009–2018. The temporal variability of RADARSAT-2 fp over the 10-year record was found to be strongly linked to the variability of mean April multi-year ice area and the spatial distribution of RADARSAT-2 fp was found to be in excellent agreement with the sea ice stage of development prior to the melt season. RADARSAT-2 fp values were in good agreement with the peak fp observed from in situ observations but were found to be ∼0.05 larger compared to peak MODIS fp observations. Statistically significant detrended correlations between RADARSAT-2 fp and summer sea ice area were found for several regions within the CAA. Our results show that RADARSAT-2 fp can be used to provide predictive information about summer sea ice area for a key shipping region of the Northwest Passage.

Stephen Edward Lee Howell et al.

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Stephen Edward Lee Howell et al.

Stephen Edward Lee Howell et al.

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Short summary
Melt ponds form on the surface of Arctic sea ice during spring and have been shown to exert a strong influence on summer sea ice area. Here, we use RADARSAT-2 satellite imagery to estimate the predicted spring melt pond fraction in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago from 2009–2018. Our results show that RADARSAT-2 estimates of melt pond fraction can be used to provide predictive information about summer sea ice area within certain regions of Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
Melt ponds form on the surface of Arctic sea ice during spring and have been shown to exert a...
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