Arctic multiyear sea ice variability observed from satellites: a review

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Abstract

In comparison with seasonal sea ice (first-year ice, FY ice), multiyear (MY) sea ice is thicker and has more opportunity to survive through the summer melting seasons. Therefore, the variability of wintertime MY ice plays a vital role in modulating the variations in the Arctic sea ice minimum extent during the following summer. As a response, the ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions may be significantly affected by the variations in the MY ice cover. Satellite observations are characterized by their capability to capture the spatiotemporal changes of Arctic sea ice. During the recent decades, many active and passive sensors onboard a variety of satellites (QuikSCAT, ASCAT, SSMIS, ICESat, CryoSat-2, etc.) have been used to monitor the dramatic loss of Arctic MY ice. The main objective of this study is to outline the advances and remaining challenges in monitoring the MY ice changes through the utilization of multiple satellite observations. We summarize the primary satellite data sources that are used to identify MY ice. The methodology to classify MY ice and derive MY ice concentration is reviewed. The interannual variability and trends in the MY ice time series in terms of coverage, thickness, volume, and age composition are evaluated. The potential causes associated with the observed Arctic MY ice loss are outlined, which are primarily related to the export and melting mechanisms. In addition, the causes to the MY ice depletion from the perspective of the oceanic water inflow from Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the water vapor intrusion, as well as the roles of synoptic weather, are analyzed. The remaining challenges and possible upcoming research subjects in detecting the rapidly changing Arctic MY ice using the combined application of multisource remote sensing techniques are discussed. Moreover, some suggestions for the future application of satellite observations on the investigations of MY ice cover changes are proposed.

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Data Availability Statement

All data generated and/or analyzed during this study are available in the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) repository (https://nsidc.org/).

Change history

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Correspondence to Haibo Bi or Yunhe Wang.

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Supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2017YFC1404000), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41406215), the NSFC-Shandong Joint Fund for Marine Science Research Centers (No. U1606401), the Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, the Postdoctoral Science Foundation of China (No. 014M561971), and the Open Funds for the Key Laboratory of Marine Geology and Environment, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. MGE2020KG04)

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Bi, H., Liang, Y., Wang, Y. et al. Arctic multiyear sea ice variability observed from satellites: a review. J. Ocean. Limnol. 38, 962–984 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00343-020-0093-7

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Keyword

  • multiyear sea ice
  • Arctic Ocean
  • satellite observation