13 Feb 2023
 | 13 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Observing the Evolution of Summer Melt on Multiyear Sea Ice with ICESat-2 and Sentinel-2

Ellen Margaret Buckley, Sinéad Louise Farrell, Ute C. Herzfeld, Melinda A. Webster, Thomas Trantow, Oliwia N. Baney, Kyle A. Duncan, Huilin Han, and Matthew Lawson

Abstract. We investigate sea ice conditions during the 2020 melt season, when warm air temperature anomalies in Spring led to early melt onset, an extended melt season and the second-lowest September minimum Arctic ice extent observed. We focus on the region of the most persistent ice cover and examine melt pond depth retrieved from ICESat-2 using two distinct algorithms in concert with a time series of melt pond fraction and ice concentration derived from Sentinel-2 imagery to obtain insights about the melting ice surface in three dimensions. We find melt pond fraction derived from Sentinel-2 in the study region increased rapidly in June, with the mean melt pond fraction peaking at 16 % +/- 6 % on 24 June 2020, followed by a slow decrease to 8 % +/- 6 % by 3 July, and remained below 10 % for the remainder of the season through 15 September. Sea ice concentration was consistently high (>95 %) at the beginning of the melt season until 4 July, and as floes disintegrated, decreased to a minimum of 70 % on July 30, then became more variable ranging from 75 % to 90 % for the remainder of the melt season. Pond depth increased steadily from a median depth of 0.40 m +/- 0.17 m in early June, peaked at 0.97 m +/- 0.51 m on 16 July, even as melt pond fraction had already started to decrease. Our results demonstrate that by combining high-resolution passive and active remote sensing we now have the ability to track evolving melt conditions and observe changes in the sea ice cover throughout the summer season.

Ellen Margaret Buckley et al.

Status: open (until 10 Apr 2023)

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Ellen Margaret Buckley et al.

Ellen Margaret Buckley et al.


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Short summary
In this study, we use satellite observations to investigate the evolution of melt ponds on the Arctic sea ice surface. We derive pond depth from ICESat-2 measurements of the surface and bathymetry, and melt pond fraction (MPF) from the classification of Sentinel-2 imagery. MPF increases to a peak of 16 % in late June then decreases, while depth increases steadily. This work demonstrates the ability to track evolving melt conditions in three dimensions throughout the summer.