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Passive microwave sea-ice retrieval algorithms are typically tuned to brightness temperature measurements with simple treatments of weather effects. The new technique presented is a two-step algorithm that variationally retrieves surface emissivities from microwave remote sensing observations, followed by the retrieval of sea-ice concentration from surface emissivities. Surface emissivity spectra are interpreted for determining sea-ice fraction by comparison with a catalog of sea-ice emissivities to find the closest match. This catalog was computed off-line from known ocean, first-year, and multiyear sea-ice reference emissivities for a range of fractions. The technique was adjusted for application to the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU)/Microwave Humidity Sensor observations, and its performance was compared to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s AMSU heritage sea-ice algorithm and to NOAA's operational Interactive Multi-sensor Snow and Ice Mapping System taken as ground truth. Assessment results indicate a performance that is superior to the heritage algorithm particularly over multiyear ice and during the warm season.