New estimates of pan-Arctic sea ice–atmosphere neutral drag coefficients from ICESat-2 elevation data

christof.luepkes [ at ]


The effect that sea ice topography has on the mo- mentum transfer between ice and atmosphere is not fully quantified due to the vast extent of the Arctic and limita- tions of current measurement techniques. Here we present a method to estimate pan-Arctic momentum transfer via a pa- rameterization that links sea ice–atmosphere form drag coef- ficients with surface feature height and spacing. We measure these sea ice surface feature parameters using the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2). Though ICESat-2 is unable to resolve as well as airborne surveys, it has a higher along-track spatial resolution than other contemporary al- timeter satellites. As some narrow obstacles are effectively smoothed out by the ICESat-2 ATL07 spatial resolution, we use near-coincident high-resolution Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) elevation data from NASA’s Operation Ice- Bridge (OIB) mission to scale up the regional ICESat-2 drag estimates. By also incorporating drag due to open water, floe edges and sea ice skin drag, we produced a time series of average total pan-Arctic neutral atmospheric drag coefficient estimates from November 2018 to May 2022. Here we have observed its temporal evolution to be unique and not directly tied to sea ice extent. By also mapping 3-month aggregates for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 for better regional anal- ysis, we found the thick multiyear ice area directly north of the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland to be consistently above 2.0 × 10 −3 , while most of the multiyear ice portion of the Arctic is typically around 1.5 × 10 −3 .

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DOI 10.5194/tc-17-4103-2023

Cite as
Mchedlishvili, A. , Lüpkes, C. , Petty, A. , Tsamados, M. and Spreen, G. (2023): New estimates of pan-Arctic sea ice–atmosphere neutral drag coefficients from ICESat-2 elevation data , The Cryosphere, 17 (9), pp. 4103-4131 . doi: 10.5194/tc-17-4103-2023

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