Washington, Feb 27 : Scientists have found a way to track the motion of Arctic ice during summers using the Earth Observing System's Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on the Aqua satellite.
For more than 15 years, daily sea ice drifts in winter (October through May) have been monitored with satellite passive microwave sensors, including the 89-GHz channel of the AMSR-E.
Noting that reliable estimates of summer ice drift are often obscured by weather, atmospheric moisture, and surface melt effects, Ron Kwok from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tried to determine how best to fill in the 3- to 4-month annual gaps in the satellite data.
Now, Kwok has found that summer sea ice motion can be derived reliably from AMSR-E's 18-GHz channel, which has improved spatial resolution and lower sensitivity to atmospheric moisture than other channels previously used.
Comparisons with buoy drifts reveal that the data retrieved from this channel are fairly accurate.
Using this channel, Kwok examined 5 years of summer ice area exchange between the Pacific and Atlantic sectors of the Arctic Ocean and found that sea level pressure patterns during the summer of 2006 and 2007 favored the export of sea ice into the Atlantic sector.