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Multiyear Arctic Sea Ice Classification Using QuikSCAT

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2 Author(s)
Swan, A.M. ; ImSAR, Springville, UT, USA ; Long, D.G.

Long-term trends in Arctic sea ice are of particular interest in studies of global temperature, climate change, and industrial application. This paper analyzes intra-annual and interannual trends in Ku-band backscatter over first-year (FY) and multiyear (MY) sea ice to develop a new sea-ice-type classification method. Histograms of backscatter are derived from high-resolution backscatter images created using the scatterometer image reconstruction (SIR) algorithm applied to measurements obtained by the SeaWinds instrument aboard QuikSCAT. The backscatter of FY and MY sea ice are clearly identifiable and are observed to vary seasonally. Using an average of the annual backscatter trends obtained from QuikSCAT, a classification of MY ice is obtained, which uses a time-dependent threshold value. Validation of the classification method is done using regional ice charts from the Canadian Ice Service. Differences in ice classification are found to be less than 6% for the winters of 2006-2007 and 2007-2008, and the end of 2008. Anomalies in the distribution of sea ice backscatter from year to year suggest a reduction in MY ice cover between 2003 and 2009 and an approximately equivalent increase in FY ice cover.

Published in:

Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:50 ,  Issue: 9 )