The Use of AVHRR Thermal Infrared Imagery to Determine Sea Ice Thickness within the Chukchi Polynya


  • J.E. Groves
  • W.J. Stringer



Atmospheric temperature, Formation, Heat transmission, Infrared remote sensing, Mathematical models, Measurement, Meteorology, Ocean temperature, Ocean-atmosphere interaction, Polynyas, Sea ice, Temperature, Thickness, Winds, Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea


Sea ice thickness changes over a nine-day period are determined for the Chukchi Polynya using Maykut's (1986) and Kuhn et al.'s (1975) theoretical predictive models. The models relate ice thickness to sea ice surface temperature, air temperature, wind speed, and sea water temperature. Sea ice surface temperatures are derived from AVHRR imagery and meteorological observations are taken from the synoptic weather station at Barrow, Alaska. The Maykut equation yields results that appear to be realistic for the ice thickness distribution within the polynya at the beginning stages of polynya formation. Ice thickness calculations at the later stages of polynya formation are partially invalidated by the movement of large floes to the oldest part of the polynya in response to a wind from the northeast. Such a major disturbance on the surface of the polynya complicates the identification of the type and thickness of ice that is forming. These results offer encouragement for the prospects of future field studies to validate and refine the technique and for the extension of the technique to calculation of heat transfer and salt rejection within the Chukchi Polynya and other polynyas.

Key words: polynya, Chukchi Sea, ice thickness,A VHRR imagery, surface heat transfer, ice growth