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Observing regional-scale pack-ice decay processes with helicopter-borne sensors and moored upward-looking sonars

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The variability of Arctic pack-ice parameters (e.g. extent and ice type) has been monitored by satellite-borne sensors since the early 1960s, and information on ice thickness is now becoming available from satellite altimeters. However, the spatial resolution of satellite-derived ice properties is too coarse to validate fine-scale ice variability generated by regional-scale interaction processes that affect the coarse-scale pack-ice albedo, strength and decay. To understand these regional processes, researchers rely on other data-monitoring platforms such as moored upward-looking sonars and helicopter-borne sensors. Backed by observations, two such regional-scale pack-ice decay processes are discussed: the break-up of large pack-ice floes by long-period waves generated by distant storms, and the spring decay of first-year-ice ridges in a diverging pack-ice environment. These two processes, although occurring on regional spatial scales, are important contributors to the evolution of the total pack ice and need to be included in global climate models, especially as the conditions for their occurrence will alter due to climate change.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-05-01

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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.

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