Polynyas and leads are key elements of the wintertime Arctic sea-ice cover. They play a crucial role in surface heat loss, potential ice formation and consequently in the seasonal sea-ice budget. While polynyas are generally sufficiently large to be observed with passive microwave satellite sensors, the monitoring of narrow leads requires the use of data at a higher spatial resolution. We apply and evaluate different lead segmentation techniques based on sea-ice surface temperatures as measured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Daily lead composite maps indicate the presence of cloud artifacts that arise from ambiguities in the segmentation process and shortcomings in the MODIS cloud mask. A fuzzy cloud artifact filter is hence implemented to mitigate these effects and the associated potential misclassification of leads. The filter is adjusted with reference data from thermal infrared image sequences, and applied to daily MODIS data from January to April 2008. The daily lead product can be used to deduct the structure and dynamics of wintertime sea-ice leads and to assess seasonal divergence patterns of the Arctic Ocean.
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