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Naoki K., J. Ukita, F. Nishio, M. Nakayama, J. Comiso and A. J. Gasiewski (February 2008): Thin sea ice thickness as inferred from passive microwave and in situ observations. J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 113, C02S16. doi:10.1029/2007JC004270

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Microwave radiometric signals from sea ice strongly reflect physical conditions of a layer near the ice surface. This study examines the extent to which the relationships of thickness with brightness temperature and with emissivity hold for thin sea ice, approximately <0.2–0.3 m, and how those relationships may arise from changes in brine characteristics through modification of dielectric properties near the ice surface. In order to address these questions we made concurrent measurements of sea ice thickness in the Sea of Okhotsk from a ship and passive microwave radiometry from an over-flying aircraft. The results show that the brightness temperature and emissivity increase with thickness approximately within the thin ice for a frequency range of 10–37 GHz. The relationship is more pronounced at lower frequencies and at the horizontal polarization. We also established an empirical relationship between ice thickness and salinity in the layer near the ice surface from a field experiment, which qualitatively supports the idea that changes in the near-surface brine characteristics contribute to the observed thickness-brightness temperature/emissivity relationship. On the basis of our results, we conclude that for thin ice, passive microwave radiometric signals likely contain indirect information on ice thickness through the dependence of dielectric properties on brine, which provides a plausible and common explanation for previously proposed passive microwave thickness algorithms.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1029/2007JC004270