05 May 2023
 | 05 May 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Retrieval of snow layer and melt pond properties on Arctic sea ice from airborne imaging spectrometer observations

Sophie Rosenburg, Charlotte Lange, Evelyn Jäkel, Michael Schäfer, André Ehrlich, and Manfred Wendisch

Abstract. A melting snow layer on Arctic sea ice, as a composition of ice, liquid water, and air, supplies meltwater that may trigger the formation of melt ponds. As a result, surface reflection properties are altered during the melting season and thereby may change the surface energy budget. To study these processes, sea ice surface reflection properties were derived from airborne measurements using imaging spectrometers. The data were collected over the closed and marginal Arctic sea ice zone north of Svalbard in May/June 2017. A retrieval approach based on different absorption indices of pure ice and liquid water in the near-infrared spectral range was applied to the campaign data. The technique enables to retrieve the spatial distribution of the liquid water fraction of a snow layer and the effective radius of snow grains. For observations from three research flights liquid water fractions between 8.7 % and 15.6 % and snow grain sizes between 115 μm and 378 μm were derived. In addition, the melt pond depth was retrieved based on an existing approach that isolates the dependence of a melt pond reflectance spectrum on the pond depth by eliminating the reflection contribution of the pond ice bottom. The application of the approach to several case studies revealed a high variability of melt pond depth with maximum depths of 0.33 m. The results were discussed considering uncertainties arising from the reflectance measurements, the setup of radiative transfer simulations, and the retrieval method itself. Overall, the presented retrieval methods show the potential and the limitations of airborne measurements with imaging spectrometers to map the transition phase of the Arctic sea ice surface, examining the snow layer composition and melt pond depth.

Sophie Rosenburg et al.

Status: open (until 09 Jun 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2023-64', Anonymous Referee #1, 19 May 2023 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on amt-2023-64', Christopher Donahue, 19 May 2023 reply
  • RC3: 'Comment on amt-2023-64', Anonymous Referee #3, 25 May 2023 reply

Sophie Rosenburg et al.

Sophie Rosenburg et al.


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Short summary
Snow layer melting and melt pond formation on Arctic sea ice are important seasonal processes affecting the surface reflection and energy budget. Sea ice reflectance was surveyed by airborne imaging spectrometers in May/June 2017. Adapted retrieval approaches were applied to determine snow layer liquid water fraction, snow grain effective radius, and melt pond depth. The retrievals show potentials and limitations of spectral airborne imaging to map melting snow layer and melt pond properties.