CIRFA Seminar on 23 September

Welcome to this autumn`s first CIRFA seminar, given by Robbie Mallett .
Title: Snow on Arctic sea ice – much still to learn from Soviet Drifting stations

WHEN: 23 September 2021, 14:00-15:00.

WHERE: Click here to join the Teams meeting

Geophysicist Yevgeny Fedorov at the first Soviet drifting station in May 1937. Credit: M.A. Troyanovsky. The photo is from the Russian State Arctic and Arctic Museum archives. The photo is also published in Frolov et al. 2005, “The Arctic Basin – Results from the Russian Drifting Stations”.


In the second half of the twentieth century, thirty-one crewed stations drifted round the Arctic Ocean while recording information on the snow cover and weather. In the twenty-first century, snow on sea ice has emerged as a key uncertainty in remote sensing and modelling of the Arctic Ocean. Analysis of the drifting station data offers insight into the local-scale distribution of snow on sea ice, the timing of snow melt onset, and the interplay between the weather and snow properties. These insights are already being incorporated into a sea ice model (CICE), and will likely be used to refine estimates of sea ice thickness from the Cryosat-2 radar altimeter. The evolution of snow depth is also being used to evaluate the performance of a recently developed Lagrangian snow model (SnowModel-LG). The weather data may also potentially be used to evaluate the performance of atmospheric reanalysis data sets in the Arctic Ocean, where other observations are sparse. Despite its age, the drifting station record offers real insight into contemporary polar science problems.

Robbie Mallett is a PhD student at the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at UCL in the UK. His PhD project concerns the physical and microwave properties of snow on sea ice. In particular, he works on in-situ radar observations from the recent MOSAiC expedition, and the representation of snow on sea ice in models of varying complexity.

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