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The importance of diurnal processes for the seasonal cycle of sea-ice microwave brightness temperatures during early summer in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica

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Over the perennial sea ice in the western and central Weddell Sea, Antarctica, the onset of summer is accompanied by a significant decrease of sea-ice brightness temperatures (Tb) as observed by passive-microwave radiometers such as the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I). The summer-specific Tb drop is the dominant feature in the seasonal cycle of Tb data and represents a conspicuous difference to most Arctic sea-ice regions, where the onset of summer is mostly marked by a rise in Tb. Data from a 5 week drift station through the western Weddell Sea in the 2004/05 austral summer, Ice Station POLarstern (ISPOL), helped with identifying the characteristic processes for Antarctic sea ice. In situ glaciological and meteorological data, in combination with SSM/I swath satellite data, indicate that the cycle of repeated diurnal thawing and refreezing of snow ('freeze–thaw cycles') is the dominant process in the summer season, with the absence of complete snow wetting. The resulting metamorphous snow with increased grain size, as well as the formation of ice layers, leads to decreasing emissivity, enhanced volume scattering and increased backscatter. This causes the summer Tb drop.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2006

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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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