New method to estimate sea ice thickness

Image credit: Jack Landy

The resilience of the Arctic sea ice cover in a warming climate depends on its thickness and extend. When investigating sea ice from space, mapping its extend is one challenge, another is to estimate its thickness. This is where satellite altimeters, instruments that measure the hight of the sea level and the sea ice surface, can be used. The height difference between the sea ice surface and sea level, known as the freeboard, can be converted to an estimate for the ice thickness.

This requires us to understand how rapidly the Arctic sea level varies over space and time, which we can do using ESA’s CryoSat-2 satellite radar altimeter. With an optimal interpolation method, we can improve the precision of the sea level estimated ‘under’ sea ice. Researcher Jack Landy found that up to 20% improvement in sea ice freeboard indicates that his new method could upgrade current and historic altimetry-derived Arctic sea ice thickness records.

You want to know more? Find Jack´s paper online here.

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