Recent achievements in sea ice thickness derived from radar altimetry

Robert.Ricker [ at ]


The retrieval of Arctic sea ice thickness is one of the major objectives of the European CryoSat-2 radar altimeter mission and the 7-year long period of operation has produced an unprecedented record of monthly sea ice thickness information. We present CryoSat-2 results that show changes and variability of Arctic sea ice for the period 2010 to 2018. CryoSat-2, however, was designed to observe thick perennial sea ice, while retrieving thin seasonal sea ice accurately is more challenging. We have therefore developed a method of completing and improving Arctic sea ice thickness information by merging complementary satellite retrievals. The European SMOS satellite can detect thin sea ice, whereas its companion CryoSat-2 lacks sensitivity. Using these satellite missions together overcomes several issues of single-mission retrievals and provides a more accurate and comprehensive view on the state of Arctic sea-ice thickness at higher temporal resolution. Nevertheless, stand-alone CryoSat-2 observations can be used as reference data for the exploitation of older radar altimetry data sets over sea ice. In order to observe trends in sea ice thickness, it is required to minimize inter-mission biases between subsequent satellite missions. A climate data record of sea ice thickness derived from satellite radar altimetry has been developed for both hemispheres, based on the 15-year (2002-2017) monthly retrievals from Envisat and CryoSat-2 and calibrated in the 2010-2012 overlap period.

Item Type
Conference (Talk)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Peer revision
Not peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Event Details
Polar 2018, 01 Jun 2018 - 01 Jun 2018, Davos, Switzerland.
Eprint ID
Cite as
Ricker, R. , Hendricks, S. , Paul, S. , Kaleschke, L. and Tian-Kunze, X. (2018): Recent achievements in sea ice thickness derived from radar altimetry , Polar 2018, Davos, Switzerland, June 2018 - June 2018 .


Download (38MB) | Preview


Research Platforms


Edit Item Edit Item