Synoptic airborne thickness surveys reveal state of Arctic sea ice cover



[1] While summer Arctic sea-ice extent has decreased over the past three decades, it is subject to large interannual and regional variations. Methodological challenges in measuring ice thickness continue to hamper our understanding of the response of the ice-thickness distribution to recent change, limiting the ability to forecast sea-ice change over the next decade. We present results from a 2400 km long pan-Arctic airborne electromagnetic (EM) ice thickness survey in April 2009, the first-ever large-scale EM thickness dataset obtained by fixed-wing aircraft over key regions of old ice in the Arctic Ocean between Svalbard and Alaska. The data provide detailed insight into ice thickness distributions characteristic for the different regions. Comparison with previous EM surveys shows that modal thicknesses of old ice had changed little since 2007, and remained within the expected range of natural variability.