Arctic Sea Ice Albedo from AVHRR

R. W. Lindsay Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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D. A. Rothrock Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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Abstract

The seasonal cycle of surface albedo of sea ice in the Arctic is estimated from measurements made with the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) on the polar-orbiting satellites NOAA-10 and NOAA-11. The albedos of 145 200-km-square cells are analyzed. The cells are from March through September 1989 and include only those for which the sun is more than 10° above the horizon. Cloud masking is performed manually. Corrections are applied for instrument calibration, nonisotropic reflection, atmospheric interference, narrowband to broadband conversion, and normalization to a common solar zenith angle. The estimated albedos are relative, with the instrument gain set to give an albedo of 0.80 for ice floes in March and April. The mean values for the cloud-free portions of individual cells range from 0.18 to 0.91. Monthly averages of cells in the central Arctic range from 0.76 in April to 0.47 in August. The monthly averages of the within-cell standard deviations in the central Arctic are 0.04 in April and 0.06 in September. The surface albedo and surface temperature are correlated most strongly in March (R = −0.77) with little correlation in the summer. The monthly average lead fraction is determined from the mean potential open water, a scaled representation of the temperature or albedo between 0.0 (for ice) and 1.0 (for water); in the central Arctic it rises from an average 0.025 in the spring to 0.06 in September. Sparse data on aerosols, ozone, and water vapor in the atmospheric column contribute uncertainties to instantaneous, area-average albedos of 0.13, 0.04, and 0.08. Uncertainties in monthly average albedos are not this large. Contemporaneous estimation of these variables could reduce the uncertainty in the estimated albedo considerably. The poor calibration of AVHRR channels 1 and 2 is another large impediment to making accurate albedo estimates.

Abstract

The seasonal cycle of surface albedo of sea ice in the Arctic is estimated from measurements made with the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) on the polar-orbiting satellites NOAA-10 and NOAA-11. The albedos of 145 200-km-square cells are analyzed. The cells are from March through September 1989 and include only those for which the sun is more than 10° above the horizon. Cloud masking is performed manually. Corrections are applied for instrument calibration, nonisotropic reflection, atmospheric interference, narrowband to broadband conversion, and normalization to a common solar zenith angle. The estimated albedos are relative, with the instrument gain set to give an albedo of 0.80 for ice floes in March and April. The mean values for the cloud-free portions of individual cells range from 0.18 to 0.91. Monthly averages of cells in the central Arctic range from 0.76 in April to 0.47 in August. The monthly averages of the within-cell standard deviations in the central Arctic are 0.04 in April and 0.06 in September. The surface albedo and surface temperature are correlated most strongly in March (R = −0.77) with little correlation in the summer. The monthly average lead fraction is determined from the mean potential open water, a scaled representation of the temperature or albedo between 0.0 (for ice) and 1.0 (for water); in the central Arctic it rises from an average 0.025 in the spring to 0.06 in September. Sparse data on aerosols, ozone, and water vapor in the atmospheric column contribute uncertainties to instantaneous, area-average albedos of 0.13, 0.04, and 0.08. Uncertainties in monthly average albedos are not this large. Contemporaneous estimation of these variables could reduce the uncertainty in the estimated albedo considerably. The poor calibration of AVHRR channels 1 and 2 is another large impediment to making accurate albedo estimates.

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