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Determination of the age distribution of sea ice from Lagrangian observations of ice motion

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4 Author(s)
Kwok, R. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA ; Rothrock, D.A. ; Stern, H.L. ; Cunningham, G.F.

A procedure for monitoring the local age distribution of the Arctic sea ice cover is presented. The age distribution specifies the area covered by ice in different age classes. In the authors' approach, a regular array of grid points is defined initially on the first image of a long time series, and an ice tracker finds the positions of those points in all subsequent images of the series. These Lagrangian points mark the corners of a set of cells that move and deform with the ice cover. The area of each cell changes with each new image or time step. A positive change indicates that ice in a new age class was formed in the cell. A negative change is assumed to have ridged the youngest ice in the cell, reducing its area. The ice in each cell ages as it progresses through the time series. The area of multiyear ice in each cell is computed using an ice classification algorithm. Any area that is not accounted for by the young ice or multiyear ice is assigned to a category of older first-year ice. The authors thus have a fine age resolution in the young end of the age distribution, and coarse resolution for older ice. The age distribution of the young ice can be converted to a thickness distribution using a simple empirical relation between accumulated freezing-degree days and ice thickness, or using a more complicated thermodynamic model. The authors describe a general scheme for implementing this procedure for the Arctic Ocean from fall freeze-up until the onset of melt in the spring. The concept is illustrated with a time series of five ERS-1 SAR images spanning a period of 12 days. Such a scheme could be implemented with RADARSAT SAR imagery to provide basin-wide ice age and thickness information

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:33 ,  Issue: 2 )