Estimation of sea ice thickness distributions through the combination of snow depth and satellite laser altimetry data
Article first published online: 8 OCT 2009
Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans (1978–2012)
Volume 114, Issue C10, October 2009
How to Cite
2009), Estimation of sea ice thickness distributions through the combination of snow depth and satellite laser altimetry data, J. Geophys. Res., 114, C10007, doi:10.1029/2009JC005292., , , , , , and (
- Issue published online: 8 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 8 OCT 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 30 JUL 2009
- Manuscript Revised: 21 JUN 2009
- Manuscript Received: 23 JAN 2009
- sea ice
 Combinations of sea ice freeboard and snow depth measurements from satellite data have the potential to provide a means to derive global sea ice thickness values. However, large differences in spatial coverage and resolution between the measurements lead to uncertainties when combining the data. High-resolution airborne laser altimeter retrievals of snow-ice freeboard and passive microwave retrievals of snow depth taken in March 2006 provide insight into the spatial variability of these quantities as well as optimal methods for combining high-resolution satellite altimeter measurements with low-resolution snow depth data. The aircraft measurements show a relationship between freeboard and snow depth for thin ice allowing the development of a method for estimating sea ice thickness from satellite laser altimetry data at their full spatial resolution. This method is used to estimate snow and ice thicknesses for the Arctic basin through the combination of freeboard data from ICESat, snow depth data over first-year ice from AMSR-E, and snow depth over multiyear ice from climatological data. Due to the nonlinear dependence of heat flux on ice thickness, the impact on heat flux calculations when maintaining the full resolution of the ICESat data for ice thickness estimates is explored for typical winter conditions. Calculations of the basin-wide mean heat flux and ice growth rate using snow and ice thickness values at the ∼70 m spatial resolution of ICESat are found to be approximately one-third higher than those calculated from 25-km mean ice thickness values.