A year-round satellite sea-ice thickness record from CryoSat-2

Landy, Jack C.; Dawson, Geoffrey J.; Tsamados, Michel; Bushuk, Mitchell; Stroeve, Julienne C.; Howell, Stephen E. L.; Krumpen, Thomas; Babb, David G.; Komarov, Alexander S.; Heorton, Harry D. B. S.; Belter, H. Jakob; Aksenov, Yevgeny ORCID: 2022 A year-round satellite sea-ice thickness record from CryoSat-2. Nature, 609 (7927). 517-522.

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Arctic sea ice is diminishing with climate warming1 at a rate unmatched for at least 1,000 years2. As the receding ice pack raises commercial interest in the Arctic3, it has become more variable and mobile4, which increases safety risks to maritime users5. Satellite observations of sea-ice thickness are currently unavailable during the crucial melt period from May to September, when they would be most valuable for applications such as seasonal forecasting6, owing to major challenges in the processing of altimetry data7. Here we use deep learning and numerical simulations of the CryoSat-2 radar altimeter response to overcome these challenges and generate a pan-Arctic sea-ice thickness dataset for the Arctic melt period. CryoSat-2 observations capture the spatial and the temporal patterns of ice melting rates recorded by independent sensors and match the time series of sea-ice volume modelled by the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modelling and Assimilation System reanalysis8. Between 2011 and 2020, Arctic sea-ice thickness was 1.87 ± 0.10 m at the start of the melting season in May and 0.82 ± 0.11 m by the end of the melting season in August. Our year-round sea-ice thickness record unlocks opportunities for understanding Arctic climate feedbacks on different timescales. For instance, sea-ice volume observations from the early summer may extend the lead time of skilful August–October sea-ice forecasts by several months, at the peak of the Arctic shipping season.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0028-0836
Date made live: 28 Sep 2022 09:23 +0 (UTC)

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