Determining the floe-size distribution of East Antarctic sea ice from digital aerial photographs
Abstract:Floe size within the Antarctic pack ice is an important parameter that affects both the ocean–ice–atmosphere energy exchange and the mechanical properties of pack ice. In this paper we present a computer-based algorithm to extract floe-size distribution information from digital aerial photographs of Antarctic sea ice. The algorithm segments digital images of sea ice into distinct floes from which the size of each floe is calculated and floe-size distributions are derived. Through a recursive application of the morphological erosion operator, each floe is eroded towards its centre while each pixel's erosion number is recorded. This ensures no information is lost while individual floes are identified. The algorithm combines image-processing techniques with some manual input to accurately identify the boundaries of individual floes within an image. To demonstrate the functionality of the algorithm, six images, representing regions along a 22 km south-to-north transect through a transitional zone of pack ice near 65° S, 140° E, have been processed. Regional variations in the floe-size distributions show an increase in the number of smaller floes relative to larger floes and a decrease in the dominant floe size (in terms of areal coverage) from south to north. These results are consistent with ship-based observations.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2001
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