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Acceleration of sea-ice melting due to transmission of solar radiation through ponded ice area in the Arctic Ocean: results of in situ observations from icebreakers in 2006 and 2007

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Sea-ice melting processes were inferred from in situ sea-ice and ocean condition data obtained in the Arctic in summer 2006 and 2007. The relationship between ice concentration observed by on-board ice watches and water temperature showed negative correlations. This implies that as ice concentration decreases, the upper ocean becomes warmer due to greater absorption of solar radiation into open water, which promotes ice melting. However, heating of surface water is significant even in regions that were almost completely ice-covered, suggesting that transmitted solar radiation through the ice is also effective at melting sea ice. A simplified ice–upper-ocean coupled model was applied to examine the effect of heat input from open water, thick ice and thin ice. The ponded thin ice is estimated to transmit approximately three times more solar radiation than ponded thick ice. Model results suggest that transmission of solar radiation through ponded ice amplified the ice-albedo feedback mechanism, particularly in thin ice regions. Recently, the extent of old and thick multi-year ice in the Arctic Ocean has been rapidly reduced. As a result, heat input to the upper ocean through the ice is enhanced and ice melt is further accelerated.

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.

    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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