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Sea-ice thickness variability in Storfjorden, Svalbard

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Results from electromagnetic induction surveys of sea-ice thickness in Storfjorden, Svalbard, reveal large interannual ice-thickness variations in a region which is typically characterized by a reoccurring polynya. The surveys were performed in March 2003, May 2006 and March 2007 with helicopter- and ship-based sensors. The thickness distributions are influenced by sea-ice and atmospheric boundary conditions 2 months prior to the surveys, which are assessed with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images, regional QuikSCAT backscatter maps and wind information from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis dataset. Locally formed thin ice from the Storfjorden polynya was frequently observed in 2003 and 2007 (mean thickness 0.55 and 0.37 m, respectively) because these years were characterized by prevailing northeasterly winds. In contrast, the entire fjord was covered with thick external sea ice in 2006 (mean thickness 2.21 m), when ice from the Barents Sea was driven into the fjord by predominantly southerly winds. The modal thickness of this external ice in 2006 increased from 1.2 m in the northern fjord to 2.4 m in the southern fjord, indicating stronger deformation in the southern part. This dynamically thickened ice was even thicker than multi-year ice advected from the central Arctic Ocean in 2003 (mean thickness 1.83 m). The thermodynamic ice thickness of fast ice as boundary condition is investigated with a one-dimensional sea-ice growth model (1DICE) forced with meteorological data from the weather station at the island of Hopen, southeast of Storfjorden. The model results are in good agreement with the modal thicknesses of fast-ice measurements in all years.

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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