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Arctic sea-ice conditions and the distribution of solar radiation during summer

  • Donald K. Perovich (a1) and Walter B. Tucker (a1)

Abstract

Understanding the interaction of solar radiation with the ice cover is critical in determining the heat and mass balance of the Arctic ice pack, and in assessing potential impacts due to climate change. Because of the importance of the ice-albedo feedback mechanism, information on the surface state of the ice cover is needed. Observations of the surface slate of sea ice were obtained from helicopter photography missions made during the 1994 Arctic Ocean Section cruise. Photographs from one flight, taken during the height of the melt season (31 July 1994) at 76° N, 172° W, were analyzed in detail. Bare ice covered 82% of the total area, melt ponds 12%, and open water 6%, There was considerable variability in these area fractions on scales < 1 km2. Sample areas >2 3 km2 gave representative values of ice concentration and pond fraction. Melt ponds were numerous, with a number density of 1800 ponds km-2. The melt ponds had a mean area of 62 m2 a median area of 14 m2, and a size distribution that was well lit by a cumulative lognormal distribution. While leads make up only a small portion of the total area, they are the source of virtually all of the solar energy input to the ocean.

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References

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