Thumbnail Image


Publication or External Link






The Arctic is experiencing an unprecedented increase in surface temperature and decrease in sea ice extent. Discussion as to the causes that contribute to the Arctic warming is still ongoing. The ice-albedo feedback has been proposed as a possible mechanism for polar amplification of such warming. It states that more open water leads to more solar heat absorption, which results in more ice melting and more open water. In order to study this relationship there is a need for accurate information on the solar heat input into the Arctic Oceans. I have developed and improved inference schemes for shortwave radiative fluxes that respond to the needs of Polar Regions utilizing most recent information on atmospheric and surface states. A Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) approach has been optimized for Polar Regions and implemented at 1° for 2002-2010 and at 5-km for 2007. A methodology was developed to derive solar fluxes from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and implemented at 0.5° for 1983-2006. Evaluation against ground measurements over land and ocean at high latitudes shows that the MODIS shortwave flux estimates are in best agreement with ground observations as compared to other available satellite and model products, with a bias of -3.6 Wm-2 and standard deviation of 23 Wm-2 at a daily time scale. The AVHRR estimates agree with ground observations with a bias of -4.7 Wm-2 and a standard deviation of 41 Wm-2 at a daily time scale. The ice-albedo feedback was evaluated by computing the solar heating into the Arctic Ocean using the improved satellite flux estimates. A growth at a rate of 2 %/year in the trend of solar heating for 2003-09 was found at a 75 % confidence level; the trend for 1984-2002 was only 0.2 %/year at a 99 % confidence level. The ice retreat is correlated to the solar energy into the ocean at 0.7 at a 75 % confidence level. An increase in the open water fraction resulted in a maximum 300 % positive anomaly in solar heating in 2007 located where the maximum sea ice retreat is.