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Atmospheric signatures in sea-ice concentration estimates from passive microwaves: modelled and observed

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The effects of weather systems on sea-ice concentration retrieval are investigated using an advanced radiative transfer model with input data from 155radiosonde ascents together with satellite and ground based observations in the Weddell Sea in 1992. The results of the model study indicate that, using the SSM/I NASA Team algorithm, cloud liquid water increases estimates of total sea-ice concentration by the same magnitude as water vapour, i.e., up to 10 per cent, depending on surface type (open ocean, first-year ice, multiyear ice), and actual concentration. Estimates of the multiyear ice concentration are reduced by up to 80 per cent by cloud liquid water whereas the water-vapour effect is smaller (up to 6 per cent). The combined effect is less than the sum of the two. Calculations using the SMMR sea-ice algorithm were made for comparison with previous estimates by Pedersen and Maslanik. In this case study, estimates of the multiyear fraction show a smaller reduction by water vapour and a larger reduction by cloud liquid water, whereas the total concentration change is in between the two previous results.The algorithm for the SSM/I radiometer exhibits stronger effects on total ice concentration due to water vapour and cloud liquid water than that for SMMR, and atmospheric effects using the future MIMR radiometer sea-ice algorithm will be in between those from SMMR and SSM/I. Different calculated ice-concentration changes for the SSM/I due to different sets of tiepoints (emissivities) can be of the same order of magnitude as the atmospheric effect of cloud liquid water. Comparison between these modelled effects and satellite-derived concentrations from SSM/I shows good geographical and quantitative agreement in areas with extensive frontal water clouds.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1997-03-20

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