University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series > Surface roughness: a key to understanding Arctic sea ice from micro to macro scales

Surface roughness: a key to understanding Arctic sea ice from micro to macro scales

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Sea ice in the Arctic has been declining at an alarming rate over the past 15-20 years. To understand the mechanisms driving this decline we must first understand how the properties of sea ice vary across the full range of scales, from the microscopic to the macroscopic, which make up the Arctic’s ice cover. In this seminar I will demonstrate why surface roughness is key for understanding various processes affecting sea ice across these different scales. At the micro-scale (mm-cm), roughness controls the scattering of microwave radiation as it interacts with the ice cover. At the meso-scale (m), variations in the roughness of the ice topography drive differential rates of sea ice melt between locations and years. Finally, at the macro-scale (km), surface roughness can be used to predict the pattern of melt across the Arctic basin many months in advance. My research has principally involved using geodetic techniques, including Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and satellite altimetry, to study sea ice roughness at each of these scales. Here I will present the interesting findings from this research and introduce a selection of ongoing projects between the University of Bristol and Canadian research institutions targeting sea ice surface roughness, including an Environment Canada/NOAA led validation campaign for Operation IceBridge and Cryosat-2.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series series.

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