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