Hemispheric sea ice extent dynamics as observed from MSMR
Keywords:Sea ice, MSMR, Antarctic, Arctic
The ice covered regions of the polar seas influence the global climate in several ways. Any perturbation in the polar oceanic cryosphere affects the local weather and the global climate through modulation of the radiative forcing, the bottom water formation and the mass & the momentum transfer between Atmosphere-Cryosphere-Ocean System. The cold, harsh and inhospitable conditions in the polar regions prohibit the collection of extensive in situ data with sufficient spatial and temporal variation. However, satellite remote sensing is an ideal technique for studying the areas like the polar regions with synoptic and repetitive coverage. This paper discusses the analysis of the data obtained over the polar oceanic regions during the period June 1999 – September 2001 through the use of Multi-channel Scanning Microwave Radiometer (MSMR), onboard India’s first oceanographic satellite Oceansat-1. The MSMR observation shows that all the sectors in the Antarctic behave differently to the melting and formation of the sea ice. Certain peculiar features like the increase in sea ice extent during the melt season of 1999 – 2000 in the Indian Ocean sector, 15 – 20% decrease in the sea ice extent in the western Pacific sector during the ice formation period for the year 2000, melting spell within the formation phase of sea ice in B & A sector in the year 2000 were observed. On the other hand the northern polar sea ice extent is seen to be more dominated by the land characteristics. The ice formation in Kara and the Barent Sea sector is dominated by the ocean currents, where as the ice covered in the Japan and the Okhotsk Sea is dominated by the land processes. The sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean show fluctuations from July to October and remain almost steady over other months. The global sea ice cover shows a formation phase from March to June and melting phase from November to February. In other months, i.e., from July – October the global sea ice cover is dominated by the hemispheric asymmetry of the ice growth and retreat.
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