Expertise on sea ice research gathered in Bergen

More than 30 sea ice experts and scientists are gathered at the Nansen Center this week. Multi-satellite based sea ice concentration and ice drift for the entire Arctic based on data from the SPICES and ESA CCI Sea Ice projects.Multi-satellite based sea ice concentration and ice drift for the entire Arctic based on data from the SPICES and ESA CCI Sea Ice projects.Their expertise covers both studies of the sea ice cover in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. The Arctic and changes of its sea ice conditions has increased European interest. Groups of scientists from Denmark, Finland, Germany, France Italy, Spain, Turkey and Norway are partners in research and applications projects funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 - SPICES - Space-borne observations for detecting and forecasting sea ice cover extremes and the European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative (CCI) on sea ice.  

The SPICES project, lead by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, is developing new methods, based on satellite Earth observation data, to retrieve sea ice parameters. The main goal is to provide enhanced information products for use by polar operators, stakeholders, and enhancing ocean and sea ice forecasting systems, especially addressing forecasts of extreme and unexpected conditions. Automatically generated routine remote sensing information products provide general information on sea ice conditions such as ice extent and concentration. However, for ice charting, tactical navigation, and management of offshore activities in ice-covered waters much more important is to know and avoid hazardous sea ice conditions of impact on the operations. In general, sea ice hazards are related to sea ice thickness and compactness and SPICES will deliver this information.

The ESA Sea Ice CCI project is lead by the Nansen Center. The project develops a quality-controlled set of sea ice concentration data for both the Arctic and Antarctic from 1979 to present, based on passive microwave data. Furthermore, the project will develop a data set for sea ice thickness in the Arctic Ocean based on radar altimeter data from 1993 to present.  Through Round Robin data exercises the best possible validation and error characterization data are provided in order to meet the quality requirements from users and stakeholders.

The climate research community requires daily sea-ice concentration products at an accuracy of 5% for both the Arctic and Antarctic. Such accuracy is not available consistently during all seasons based on any of the operational passive microwave algorithms to extract sea-ice concentration from satellite data. This accuracy might be achievable during periods of the Arctic winter, but during the melting season larger uncertainties in the sea-ice concentration occurs. Accordingly, the ESA CCI Sea Ice project has combined and extended ongoing research to develop improved and validated time series of sea ice concentration and sea ice thickness particularly for use in climate research. Since sea ice is a sensitive climate indicator with large seasonal and regional variability, the climate research community requires consistent, long-term, and regular observations of the key ice parameters in both Arctic and Antarctic. The Sea Ice CCI delivers this information.

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