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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 12, issue 9 | Copyright
The Cryosphere, 12, 2941-2953, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-2941-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 Sep 2018

Research article | 14 Sep 2018

A scatterometer record of sea ice extents and backscatter: 1992–2016

Maria Belmonte Rivas1,3, Ines Otosaka1,2, Ad Stoffelen1, and Anton Verhoef1 Maria Belmonte Rivas et al.
  • 1Royal Netherlands Meteorology Institute (KNMI), de Bilt, 3731 GA, The Netherlands
  • 2Center for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM), University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
  • 3Instituto de Ciencias del Mar (ICM), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), 08003, Barcelona, Spain

Abstract. This paper presents the first long-term climate data record of sea ice extents and backscatter derived from intercalibrated satellite scatterometer missions (ERS, QuikSCAT and ASCAT) extending from 1992 to the present date (Verhoef et al., 2018). This record provides a valuable independent account of the evolution of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extents, one that is in excellent agreement with the passive microwave records during the fall and winter months but shows higher sensitivity to lower concentration and melting sea ice during the spring and summer months. The scatterometer record also provides a depiction of sea ice backscatter at C- and Ku-bands, allowing the separation of seasonal and perennial sea ice in the Arctic and further differentiation between second-year (SY) and older multiyear (MY) ice classes, revealing the emergence of SY ice as the dominant perennial ice type after the historical sea ice loss in 2007 and bearing new evidence on the loss of multiyear ice in the Arctic over the last 25 years. The relative good agreement between the backscatter-based sea ice (FY, SY and older MY) classes and the ice thickness record from Cryosat suggests its applicability as a reliable proxy in the historical reconstruction of sea ice thickness in the Arctic.

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We provide a novel record of scatterometer sea ice extents and backscatter that complements the passive microwave products nicely, particularly for the correction of summer melt errors. The sea ice backscatter maps help differentiate between seasonal and perennial Arctic ice classes, and between second-year and older multiyear ice, revealing the emergence of SY ice as the dominant perennial ice type after the record loss in 2007 and attesting to its use as a proxy for ice thickness.
We provide a novel record of scatterometer sea ice extents and backscatter that complements the...
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