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Keywords:

  • airborne measurements;
  • sea ice;
  • aerosols;
  • trace gases

The Arctic is undergoing rapid environmental change, manifested most dramatically by reductions in sea ice extent and thickness. The changes are attributed to anthropogenic effects related to greenhouse warming, with secondary contributions from changing ocean and wind currents as well as from pollutants, especially “absorbing” black carbon. The warmer Arctic air temperatures and new patterns of wind and ocean circulation have also contributed to a younger ice cover [Maslanik et al., 2011]. Specific factors that determine the temporal distribution of sea ice are poorly understood because few observations of key variables have been made in the central Arctic. For example, the planetary boundary layer (PBL), the lowest part of the atmosphere governed by interaction with Earth's surface, plays a critical role involving the exchange of momentum, heat, water vapor, trace gases, and aerosol particles. Satellites can provide limited observations of sea ice properties, but so far, accurate measurements of ice thickness or boundary layer properties have not been easily obtained. Although satellite retrievals of geophysical variables might be an essential source of information, their reliability remains questionable owing to inadequate spatial and/or temporal resolution and to a need for further validation.