Thin-ice dynamics and ice production in the Storfjorden polynya for winter seasons 2002/2003-2013/2014 using MODIS thermal infrared imagery

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Abstract

Spatial and temporal characteristics of the Storfjorden polynya, which forms regularly in the proximity of the islands Spitsbergen, Barentsøya and Edgeøya in the Svalbard archipelago under the influence of strong north-easterly winds, have been investigated for the period 2002/2003 to 2013/2014 using thermal infrared satellite imagery. Thin-ice thicknesses were calculated from MODIS ice-surface temperatures, combined with ECMWF ERA-Interim atmospheric reanalysis data in an energy-balance model. Based on calculated thin-ice thicknesses, associated quantities like polynya area and total ice production were derived and compared to previous remote sensing and modeling studies. A basic coverage-correction scheme was applied to account for cloud-gaps in the daily composites. The sea ice in the Storfjorden area experiences a late fall freeze-up in several years over the 12 winter-period, with an increasing frequency of large polynya events until the end of December. During the regarded period, the mean polynya area is 4555.7 ± 1542.9 km<sup>2</sup>. The average ice production in the fjord is estimated with 28.3 ± 8.5 km<sup>3</sup> per winter and therefore lower than in previous studies. Despite this comparatively short record of 12 winter-seasons, a significant positive trend of 20.2 km<sup>3</sup> per decade could be detected, which contrasts earlier reports of a slightly negative trend in accumulated ice production prior to 2002. Derived estimates underline the importance of this relatively small coastal polynya system considering its contribution to the cold halocline layer through salt release during ice formation processes.

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Preußer, A., Willmes, S., Heinemann, G., & Paul, S. (2015). Thin-ice dynamics and ice production in the Storfjorden polynya for winter seasons 2002/2003-2013/2014 using MODIS thermal infrared imagery. Cryosphere, 9(3), 1063–1073. https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-1063-2015

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