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Principal-component analysis of sea-ice motion from satellite data

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The two-dimensional wavelet transform is a highly efficient band-pass filter, which can be used to track features in satellite images from sequential paths. Wavelet analysis of NASA scatterometer and Special Sensor Microwave/Imager data has been used to obtain daily sea-ice drift information for the Arctic region. Comparison with ice motion derived from ocean buoys shows good quantitive agreement. Furthermore, the scatterometer results definitely complement passive-microwave radiometer results when there are cloud or surface effects. This outcome allows three sets of sea-ice-drift daily results from scatterometer, radiometer and buoy data to be merged as a composite map by data-fusion techniques. Based on the composite maps, the ice-flow streamlines are highly correlated with surface air-pressure contours. In order to quantify the wind effects on ice motion, empirical orthogonal functions are used in the principal-component analysis to isolate generalized patterns inherent in 6 months (fall/winter) of daily sea-ice motion data. It is found that 30% of sea-ice motion is highly correlated with 50% of the pressure field in modes 1and 2. For the higher modes, sea-ice motion is also affected by ocean current, bathymetry and coastal boundary and therefore is not highly correlated with the wind field.

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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