Brief communication: Conventional assumptions involving the speed of radar waves in snow introduce systematic underestimates to sea ice thickness and seasonal growth rate estimates

Robbie D.C. Mallett*, Isobel R. Lawrence, Julienne C. Stroeve, Jack C. Landy, Michel Tsamados

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

3 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Pan-Arctic sea ice thickness has been monitored over recent decades by satellite radar altimeters such as CryoSat-2, which emits Ku-band radar waves that are assumed in publicly available sea ice thickness products to penetrate overlying snow and scatter from the ice-snow interface. Here we examine two expressions for the time delay caused by slower radar wave propagation through the snow layer and related assumptions concerning the time evolution of overlying snow density. Two conventional treatments introduce systematic underestimates of up to 15 cm into ice thickness estimates and up to 10 cm into thermodynamic growth rate estimates over multi-year ice in winter. Correcting these biases would impact a wide variety of model projections, calibrations, validations and reanalyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-260
Number of pages10
JournalCryosphere
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2020

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