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Interannual variations in snow melt over Arctic sea ice and relationships to atmospheric forcings

  • Mark G. Serreze (a1), James A. Maslanik (a1), Gregory R. Scharfen (a1), Roger G. Barry (a1) and David A. Robinson (a2)...

Abstract

Spring snow melt over the Beaufort and East Siberian seas is examined using visible-band DMSP imagery, SMMR brightness temperatures, and surface air temperatures for the years 1979, 1980 and 1984–86. Regional melt onset, as identified from the SMMR data, typically begins in early June, but can vary by up to two weeks between years. The subsequent pace of melt, estimated from the difference in days between the SMMR signal and visual identification of melt features in the DMSP data, exhibits a similar range. Interannual differences in snow melt are examined with respect to variations in cloud cover and geostrophic meridional winds. While over the Beaufort Sea, early melt onset and rapid melt progression may be favored by a combination of limited cloud cover and, as inferred from the wind data, strong northward air advection, no firm conclusions can be drawn from the available data. Presumably, potential relationships between melt and atmospheric forcings tend to be masked by additional factors, such as variations in initial snow depth and uncertainties in the data sets.

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References

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