04 Jan 2022
04 Jan 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Antarctic sea ice types from active and passive microwave remote sensing

Christian Melsheimer1, Gunnar Spreen1, Yufang Ye2, and Mohammed Shokr3 Christian Melsheimer et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP), University of Bremen, Germany
  • 2School of Geospatial Engineering and Science, Sun Yat-Sen University, Zhuhai, China
  • 3Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Canada

Abstract. Polar sea ice is one of the Earth’s climate components that has been significantly affected by the recent trend of global warming. While the sea ice area in the Arctic has been decreasing at a rate of about 4 % per decade, the multi-year ice (MYI), also called perennial ice, is decreasing at a faster rate of 10 %–15 % per decade. On the other hand, the sea ice area in the Antarctic region was slowly increasing at a rate of about 1.5 % per decade until 2014 and since then it has fluctuated without a clear trend. However, no data about ice type areas are available from that region, particularly of MYI. Due to differences in physical and crystalline structural properties of sea ice and snow between the two polar regions, it has become difficult to identify ice types in the Antarctic. Until recently, no method has existed to monitor the distribution and temporal development of Antarctic ice types, particularly MYI throughout the freezing season and on decadal time scales. In this study, we have adapted a method for retrieving Arctic sea ice types and partial concentrations using microwave satellite observations to fit the Antarctic sea ice conditions. The first circumpolar, long-term time series of Antarctic sea ice types; MYI, first-year ice and young ice is being established, so far covering years 2013–2019. Qualitative comparison with synthetic aperture radar data, with charts of the development stage of the sea ice, and with Antarctic polynya distribution data show that the retrieved ice types, in particular the MYI, are reasonable. Although there are still some shortcomings, the new retrieval for the first time allows insight into the evolution and dynamics of Antarctic sea ice types. The current time series can in principle be extended backwards to start in the year 2002 and can be continued with current and future sensors.

Christian Melsheimer et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-381', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Christian Melsheimer, 01 Apr 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2021-381', Anonymous Referee #2, 17 Feb 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Christian Melsheimer, 01 Apr 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on tc-2021-381', Anonymous Referee #3, 01 Mar 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Christian Melsheimer, 01 Apr 2022

Christian Melsheimer et al.

Christian Melsheimer et al.


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Short summary
Knowing the type of Antarctic sea ice – first-year ice (grown in one season) or multiyear ice (having survived one summer melt) – is needed in order to understand and model its evolution because the ice types behave and react differently. We have adapted and extended an existing method (originally for the Arctic) and now for the first time can derive daily maps of the Antarctic sea ice type from microwave satellite data. This will allow to build a new data set from 2002 well into the future.