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Sea-ice freeboard retrieval using digital photon-counting laser altimetry

  • Sinéad L. Farrell (a1) (a2) (a3), Kelly M. Brunt (a1) (a3), Julia M. Ruth (a4), John M. Kuhn (a2), Laurence N. Connor (a2) and Kaitlin M. Walsh (a3) (a5)...
Abstract

Airborne and spaceborne altimeters provide measurements of sea-ice elevation, from which sea-ice freeboard and thickness may be derived. Observations of the Arctic ice pack by satellite altimeters indicate a significant decline in ice thickness, and volume, over the last decade. NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) is a next-generation laser altimeter designed to continue key sea-ice observations through the end of this decade. An airborne simulator for ICESat-2, the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar (MABEL), has been deployed to gather pre-launch data for mission development. We present an analysis of MABEL data gathered over sea ice in the Greenland Sea and assess the capabilities of photon-counting techniques for sea-ice freeboard retrieval. We compare freeboard estimates in the marginal ice zone derived from MABEL photon-counting data with coincident data collected by a conventional airborne laser altimeter. We find that freeboard estimates agree to within 0.03 m in the areas where sea-ice floes were interspersed with wide leads, and to within 0.07 m elsewhere. MABEL data may also be used to infer sea-ice thickness, and when compared with coincident but independent ice thickness estimates, MABEL ice thicknesses agreed to within 0.65 m or better.

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References
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Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
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