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Rohrs, J; Kaleschke, L (2012). An algorithm to detect sea ice leads by using AMSR-E passive microwave imagery. CRYOSPHERE, 6(2), 343-352.

Leads are major sites of energy fluxes and brine releases at the air-ocean interface of sea-ice covered oceans. This study presents an algorithm to detect leads wider than 3 km in the entire Arctic Ocean. The algorithm detects 50 % of the lead area that was visible in optical MODIS satellite images. Passive microwave imagery from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer - Earth Observation System (AMSR-E) is used, allowing daily observations due to the fact that AMSR-E does not depend on daylight or cloud conditions. Using the unique signatures of thin ice in the brightness temperature ratio between the 89 GHz and 19 GHz channels, the algorithm is able to detect thin ice areas in the ice cover and is optimized to detect leads. Leads are mapped for the period from 2002 to 2011 excluding the summer months, and validated qualitatively by using MODIS, Envisat ASAR, and CryoSat-2 data. Several frequently recurring large scale lead patterns are found, especially in regions where sea ice is known to drift out of the Arctic Ocean.



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