Preprints
https://doi.org/10.22541/essoar.168500347.79506486/v1
https://doi.org/10.22541/essoar.168500347.79506486/v1
02 Nov 2023
 | 02 Nov 2023

The Radiative and Geometric Properties of Melting First-Year Sea Ice

Nathan J. M. Laxague, Christopher J. Zappa, Andrew Richard Mahoney, John Goodwin, Cyrus Harris, Robert E. Schaeffer, Roswell Schaeffer Sr., Sarah Betcher, Donna D. W. Hauser, Carson R. Witte, Jessica M. Lindsay, Ajit Subramaniam, Kate Elyse Turner, and Alex Whiting

Abstract. In polar regions, sea ice is a crucial mediator of the interaction between earth's atmosphere and oceans. Its formation and breakup is intimately connected with local weather patterns and larger-scale climatic processes. During the spring melt and breakup period, snow-covered ice transitions to open water in a matter of weeks. This has a profound impact on the use of sea ice in coastal Arctic regions by Indigenous People, where activities such as hunting and fishing are central to community livelihood. In order to investigate the physical phenomena at the heart of this process, a set of targeted, intensive observations were made over Spring sea ice melt and breakup in Kotzebue Sound, Alaska. This program is part of the Ikaaġvik Sikukun project, a collaborative effort in which an Indigenous Elder advisory council from Kotzebue and scientists participated in co-production of hypotheses and observational research, including a stronger understanding of the physical properties of sea ice during spring melt. Data were collected using high-endurance, fixed-wing uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) containing custom-built scientific payloads. Here we present the results of these measurements. Repeated flights over the measurement period captured the early stages of the transition from a white, snow-covered state to a broken up, bare/blue-green state. We found that the reflectance of sea ice features depend strongly on their size. Snow patches get darker as they get smaller, an effect owed to the geometric relationship between bright interior and the darker, melting feature edges. Conversely, bare patches get darker as they get larger. For the largest ice features observed, bare blue-green ice patches were found to be ~20 % less reflective than average, while large snowy/white ice patches were found to be ~20 % more reflective than average. 

Nathan J. M. Laxague, Christopher J. Zappa, Andrew Richard Mahoney, John Goodwin, Cyrus Harris, Robert E. Schaeffer, Roswell Schaeffer Sr., Sarah Betcher, Donna D. W. Hauser, Carson R. Witte, Jessica M. Lindsay, Ajit Subramaniam, Kate Elyse Turner, and Alex Whiting

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2541', Anonymous Referee #1, 27 Nov 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Nathan Laxague, 25 Jan 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2541', Anonymous Referee #2, 02 Dec 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Nathan Laxague, 25 Jan 2024
Nathan J. M. Laxague, Christopher J. Zappa, Andrew Richard Mahoney, John Goodwin, Cyrus Harris, Robert E. Schaeffer, Roswell Schaeffer Sr., Sarah Betcher, Donna D. W. Hauser, Carson R. Witte, Jessica M. Lindsay, Ajit Subramaniam, Kate Elyse Turner, and Alex Whiting

Data sets

Codes and Data for "The Radiative and Geometric Properties of Melting First-Year Sea Ice", pre-submission Nathan J. M. Laxague and Christopher J. Zappa https://doi.org/10.7916/rrbv-k026

Nathan J. M. Laxague, Christopher J. Zappa, Andrew Richard Mahoney, John Goodwin, Cyrus Harris, Robert E. Schaeffer, Roswell Schaeffer Sr., Sarah Betcher, Donna D. W. Hauser, Carson R. Witte, Jessica M. Lindsay, Ajit Subramaniam, Kate Elyse Turner, and Alex Whiting

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Short summary
The state of sea ice strongly affects its absorption of solar energy. In May 2019, we flew uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with sensors designed to quantify the sunlight that is reflected by sea ice at each wavelength (color) over the sea ice of Kotzebue Sound, Alaska. We found that snow patches get darker (up to ~20%) as they get smaller, while bare patches get darker (up to ~20%) as they get larger. We believe that this difference is due to melting around the edges of small features.