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Jun Inoue, Judith A. Curry, and James A. Maslanik

Abstract

Continuous observation of sea ice using a small robotic aircraft called the Aerosonde was made over the Arctic Ocean from Barrow, Alaska, on 20–21 July 2003. Over a region located 350 km off the coast of Barrow, images obtained from the aircraft were used to characterize the sea ice and to determine the fraction of melt ponds on both multiyear and first-year ice. Analysis of the data indicates that melt-pond fraction increased northward from 20% to 30% as the ice fraction increased. However, the fraction of ponded ice was over 30% in the multiyear ice zone while it was about 25% in the first-year ice zone. A comparison with a satellite microwave product showed that the ice concentration derived from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for the Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) has a negative bias of 7% due to melt ponds. These analyses demonstrate the utility of recent advances in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology for monitoring and interpreting the spatial variations in the sea ice with melt ponds.

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