Skip to Main Content
Continuous monitoring of sea ice and its changes is mainly done by passive microwave sensors on satellites. One frequently used technique of retrieving sea-ice concentrations is the Arctic Radiation and Turbulence Interaction STudy Sea Ice (ASI) algorithm, which uses the near-90-GHz channels, here those of the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-Earth Observing System to calculate sea-ice concentrations. The ASI ice concentrations are compared with ice concentrations derived from the following: 1) the multispectral imager Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus operating on Landsat and 2) from Envisat and Radarsat SAR images. In this paper, we focus on marginal ice zones, as the ice concentrations in those regions are in general observed with higher errors. First-year ice (bias: -1%-0% and rms error: 1%-4%) and young ice (bias: -4%-0% and rms error: 3%-9%) are fairly well recognized with little underestimation of ASI ice concentrations with respect to Landsat ice concentrations. New ice is identified with less accuracy by the ASI algorithm (bias: -16%-9% and rms error: 18.3%-26.2%). Averaged over all ice types, the bias ranges between -8.4% and 4.5%, and the rms error ranges between 2.0% and 17.4%. Discrepancies mainly occur in polynya areas (underestimation by ASI) and along the ice edge (overestimation by ASI). The results of the ASI-SAR comparison yield contrasting results. ASI underestimates the ice concentrations near the ice edge but overestimates them in some interior areas (bias: -2.9%-2.5% and rms error: 16.9%-20.1%). The discrepancies between both comparisons may be due to the different interaction mechanisms of the different sensor types, particularly with the newly formed ice.