Snow cover on sea ice plays an important role in the climate of the polar regions. Snow on the sea ice reduces the heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere by its high albedo and low thermal conductivity. The lower the albedo the less solar energy is reflected back into the atmosphere. This energy is absorbed into the ocean. The warmer water will melt more sea ice, and eventually the warmer atmosphere above the warmer water will melt more of the sea ice in the polar regions. The only practical means of observing snow cover over sea ice is by satellite remote sensing. The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) onboard NASA’s Aqua satellite does precisely this. To validate the measurements made by AMSR-E, the University of Kansas developed an ultra wideband frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FM-CW) airborne radar to measure the snow thickness over sea ice. This system was flown over the Arctic sea ice in March 2006 to measure the snow thickness. This paper will present the preliminary results from this experiment.

Animation of the Seasonal Change of Sea Ice

uwade[at]cresis.ku.edu - Copyright © 2006 Unquiea Wade