Comparison of different retrieval techniques for melt ponds on Arctic sea ice from Landsat and MODIS satellite data

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Melt ponds are regularly observed on the surface of Arctic sea ice in late spring and summer. They strongly reduce the surface albedo and accelerate the decay of Actic sea ice. Until now, only a few studies have looked at the spatial extent of melt ponds on Arctic sea ice. Knowledge of the melt-pond distribution on the entire Arctic sea ice would provide a solid basis for the parameterization of melt ponds in existing sea-ice models. Due to the different spectral properties of snow, ice and water, a multispectral sensor such as Landsat 7 ETM+ is generally applicable for the analysis of distribution. An additional advantage of the ETM+ sensor is the very high spatial resolution (30 m). An algorithm based on a principal component analysis (PCA) of two spectral channels has been developed in order to determine the melt-pond fraction. PCA allows differentiation of melt ponds and other surface types such as snow, ice or water. Spectral bands 1 and 4 with central wavelengths at 480 and 770 nm, respectively, are used as they represent the differences in the spectral albedo of melt ponds. A Landsat 7 ETM+ scene from 19 July 2001 was analysed using PCA. The melt-pond fraction determined by the PCA method yields a different spatial distribution of the ponded areas from that developed by others. A MODIS subset from the same date and area is also analysed. The classification of MODIS data results in a higher melt-pond fraction than both Landsat classifications.

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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