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[1] Late-summer thickness distributions of large ice floes in the Transpolar Drift between Svalbard and the North Pole in 1991, 1996, 1998, and 2001 are compared. They have been derived from drilling and electromagnetic (EM) sounding. Results show a strong interannual variability, with significantly reduced thickness in 1998 and 2001. The mean thickness decreased by 22.5% from 3.11 m in 1991 to 2.41 m in 2001, and the modal thickness by 22% from 2.50 m in 1991 to 1.95 m in 2001. Since modal thickness represents the thickness of level ice, the observed thinning reflects changes in thermodynamic conditions. Together with additional data from the Laptev Sea obtained in 1993, 1995, and 1996, results are in surprising agreement with recently published thickness anomalies retrieved from satellite radar altimetry for Arctic regions south of 81.5°N. This points to a strong sensitivity of radar altimetry data to level ice thickness.