ASSESSMENT OF SEA ICE FREEBOARD AND THICKNESS IN MCMURDO SOUND, ANTARCTICA, DERIVED BY GROUND VALIDATED SATELLITE ALTIMETER DATA
Keywords: ICESat, sea ice freeboard, McMurdo Sound, remote sensing, lidar
Abstract. This investigation employs the use of ICESat to derive freeboard measurements in McMurdo Sound in the western Ross Sea, Antarctica, for the time period 2003-2009. Methods closely follow those previously presented in the literature but are complemented by a good understanding of general sea ice characteristics in the study region from extensive temporal ground investigations but with limited spatial coverage. The aim of remote sensing applications in this area is to expand the good knowledge of sea ice characteristics within these limited areas to the wider McMurdo Sound and western Ross Sea region. The seven year Austral Spring (September, October, and November) investigation is presented for sea ice freeboard alone. An interannual comparison of mean freeboard indicates an increase in multiyear sea ice freeboard from 1.08 m in 2003 to 1.15 m in 2009 with positive and negative variation in between. No significant trend was detected for first year sea ice freeboard. Further, an Envisat imagery investigation complements the freeboard assessment. The multiyear sea ice was observed to increase by 254 % of its original 2003 area, as firstyear sea ice persisted through the 2004 melt season into 2005. This maximum coverage then gradually diminished by 2009 to 20 % above the original 2003 value. The mid study period increase is likely attributed to the passage of iceberg B-15A minimising oceanic pressures and preventing sea ice breakout in the region.