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ICESat observations of seasonal and interannual variations of sea-ice freeboard and estimated thickness in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica (2003–2009)

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Sea-ice freeboard heights for 17 ICESat campaign periods from 2003 to 2009 are derived from ICESat data. Freeboard is combined with snow depth from Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) data and nominal densities of snow, water and sea ice, to estimate sea-ice thickness. Sea-ice freeboard and thickness distributions show clear seasonal variations that reflect the yearly cycle of growth and decay of the Weddell Sea (Antarctica) pack ice. During October–November, sea ice grows to its seasonal maximum both in area and thickness; the mean freeboards are 0.33–0.41 m and the mean thicknesses are 2.10–2.59 m. During February–March, thinner sea ice melts away and the sea-ice pack is mainly distributed in the west Weddell Sea; the mean freeboards are 0.35–0.46 m and the mean thicknesses are 1.48–1.94 m. During May–June, the mean freeboards and thicknesses are 0.26–0.29 m and 1.32–1.37 m, respectively. The 6 year trends in sea-ice extent and volume are (0.023 ± 0.051) × 106 km2 a–1 (0.45% a–1) and (0.007 ± 0.092) × 103 km3 a–1 (0.08% a–1); however, the large standard deviations indicate that these positive trends are not statistically significant.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2011

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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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