Arctic Ice Thickness

The European Space Agency’s CryoSat mission released today at the Paris Air and Space Show its first detailed map of the thickness of Arctic sea ice. The above map portrays ice thickness during this past winter’s Artic sea ice maximum. The detail is achieved by a process called Synthetic Aperture Radar which the ESA explains as involving more frequent radar impulses (about 10 times faster than conventional radar altimeters) and by arranging the data into overlapping strips representing 250 meters of earth surface scanned. The data on the overlaps are averaged to reduce noise. This produces an accurate picture of the height of sea ice. By comparing it with the height of surrounding water and water in cracks between floes, the data produces estimates of the ice thickness using models produced the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, University College London. The ESA promises regular and timely maps to allow monitoring of the health of arctic sea ice.




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