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Sea-ice concentration retrieval in the Antarctic based on the SSM/I 85.5 GHz polarization

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Using data from the 85 GHz channels of the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) allows a resolution improvement by at least a factor of four compared to the other channels. Consequently, higher-resolution sea-ice concentration data can be obtained which in turn can be used to improve the results of numerical weather-prediction (NWP) and global circulation models. The proposed new sea-ice concentration retrieval algorithm (SEA LION algorithm) uses the polarization at 85 GHz (P). Emission from atmospheric water and scattering at the wind-roughened sea surface (weather effect) decrease P and cause an overestimation of the sea-ice concentration. We quantify the weather effect with a radiative transfer model and atmospheric data obtained from NWP models and the other SSM/I channels, and correct P for this effect. Tie points of open water and sea ice are determined for each month separately from daily gridded 85 GHz SSM/I brightness temperatures. Sea-ice concentrations are calculated with the new algorithm for the entire Southern Ocean for each day of the period 1992–98 with a spatial resolution of 12.5 × 12.5 km2. Comparisons of these ice concentrations with Operational Linescan System visible images reveal convincing results concerning the monitoring of coastal polynyas and the break-up of the pack ice in spring. SEA LION sea-ice extents and areas, and comparisons between SEA LION sea-ice concentrations and ship observations, agree with those obtained by the NASA Team and the Bootstrap algorithms.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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