Snow depth of the Weddell and Bellingshausen sea ice covers from IceBridge surveys in 2010 and 2011 : an examination

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Kwok, Ron
Maksym, Ted
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Snow depth
Sea ice
Weddell Sea
We examine the snow radar data from the Weddell and Bellingshausen Seas acquired by eight IceBridge (OIB) flightlines in October of 2010 and 2011. In snow depth retrieval, the sidelobes from the stronger scattering snow-ice (s-i) interfaces could be misidentified as returns from the weaker air-snow (a-s) interfaces. In this paper, we first introduce a retrieval procedure that accounts for the structure of the radar system impulse response followed by a survey of the snow depths in the Weddell and Bellingshausen Seas. Limitations and potential biases in our approach are discussed. Differences between snow depth estimates from a repeat survey of one Weddell Sea track separated by 12 days, without accounting for variability due to ice motion, is −0.7 ± 13.6 cm. Average snow depth is thicker in coastal northwestern Weddell and thins toward Cape Norvegia, a decrease of >30 cm. In the Bellingshausen, the thickest snow is found nearshore in both Octobers and is thickest next to the Abbot Ice Shelf. Snow depth is linearly related to freeboard when freeboards are low but diverge as the freeboard increases especially in the thicker/rougher ice of the western Weddell. We find correlations of 0.71–0.84 between snow depth and surface roughness suggesting preferential accumulation over deformed ice. Retrievals also seem to be related to radar backscatter through surface roughness. Snow depths reported here, generally higher than those from in situ records, suggest dissimilarities in sample populations. Implications of these differences on Antarctic sea ice thickness are discussed.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2014. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 119 (2014): 4141–4167, doi:10.1002/2014JC009943.
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 119 (2014): 4141–4167
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