Analysis of merged SMMR-SSMI time series of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice parameters 1978-1995
TypeJournal article; Peer reviewed
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The most consistent means of investigating the global sea ice cover is by satellite passive microwave sensors, as these are independent of illumination and cloud cover. The Nimbus 7 Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSMI) provide information on the global sea ice cover from 1978 to present. The two instruments flew simultaneously during a 6-week overlap period in July and August 1987, thus enabling intercomparison of the two sensors. Brightness temperatures are corrected for instrument drift and calibration differences in order to produce continuous time series of monthly averaged Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent and sea ice area through the use of the NOrwegian Remote Sensing EXperiment (NORSEX) algorithm, which relates brightness temperatures to ice concentration. Statistical analysis on the time series estimates the decreases in Arctic ice extent and ice area to be 4.5% and 5.7%, respectively, during the 16.8-year observation period. The overall trends established here serve to better define and strengthen earlier assertions of a reduced ice cover, based on analysis of SMMR and SSMI data taken separately. These results are consistent with GCM simulations that suggest retreat of the sea ice cover under global warming scenarios.