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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 6, issue 2
The Cryosphere, 6, 343-352, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-6-343-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 6, 343-352, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-6-343-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 27 Mar 2012

Research article | 27 Mar 2012

An algorithm to detect sea ice leads by using AMSR-E passive microwave imagery

J. Röhrs and L. Kaleschke J. Röhrs and L. Kaleschke
  • Institut für Meereskunde, KlimaCampus, University of Hamburg, Bundesstraße 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

Abstract. Leads are major sites of energy fluxes and brine releases at the air-ocean interface of sea-ice covered oceans. This study presents an algorithm to detect leads wider than 3 km in the entire Arctic Ocean. The algorithm detects 50 % of the lead area that was visible in optical MODIS satellite images. Passive microwave imagery from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer – Earth Observation System (AMSR-E) is used, allowing daily observations due to the fact that AMSR-E does not depend on daylight or cloud conditions. Using the unique signatures of thin ice in the brightness temperature ratio between the 89 GHz and 19 GHz channels, the algorithm is able to detect thin ice areas in the ice cover and is optimized to detect leads. Leads are mapped for the period from 2002 to 2011 excluding the summer months, and validated qualitatively by using MODIS, Envisat ASAR, and CryoSat-2 data. Several frequently recurring large scale lead patterns are found, especially in regions where sea ice is known to drift out of the Arctic Ocean.

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