Towards an Integrated Retrieval of Antarctic Sea ice Volume

Sea ice is found at the interface of ocean and atmosphere of Earth’s polar regions, and has been described as one of the climate canaries. It also provides refuge to numerous ecosystems. While we hold a good understanding of fundamental sea ice processes, its complex interactions within the polar climate system require further research. Because of its expanse, remote sensing provides the only (sustainable) method for observing and monitoring sea ice. However, satellite derived sea ice products require further validation and systematic assessment, if they are to be used for climate observations. Much attention has been paid to the Arctic sea ice cover, presumably because of the more dramatic changes observed and projected. The Antarctic sea ice cover has received less attention. However, since Antarctic sea ice is much thinner than Arctic sea ice, any change in sea ice thickness might have more severe consequences for the health of the Antarctic sea ice cover than it has for the Arctic. Therefore, as part of the research proposed here we will focus on the Southern Ocean sea ice cover.

We will:

  • review and characterize accuracy and precision of satellite sea ice products available for the Antarctic such as ice concentration, ice motion, ice type, and thickness;
  • use case studies to assess sea ice kinematics;
  • seek to build an understanding of the mechanisms of distributing and spatial-temporal evolution of the Southern Ocean sea ice volume; and
  • review any detected change in large-scale spatial-temporal characteristics of the Antarctic sea ice cover, including fast ice, with the aim to identify relevant forcing mechanisms.