The Cryosphere (Apr 2012)

Albedo of the ice covered Weddell and Bellingshausen Seas

  • A. I. Weiss,
  • J. C. King,
  • T. A. Lachlan-Cope,
  • R. S. Ladkin

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6, no. 2
pp. 479 – 491


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This study investigates the surface albedo of the sea ice areas adjacent to the Antarctic Peninsula during the austral summer. Aircraft measurements of the surface albedo, which were conducted in the sea ice areas of the Weddell and Bellingshausen Seas show significant differences between these two regions. The averaged surface albedo varied between 0.13 and 0.81. The ice cover of the Bellingshausen Sea consisted mainly of first year ice and the sea surface showed an averaged sea ice albedo of <span style="border-top: 1px solid #000; color: #000;">&alpha;<sub>i</sub></span> = 0.64 ± 0.2 (&plusmn; standard deviation). The mean sea ice albedo of the pack ice area in the western Weddell Sea was <span style="border-top: 1px solid #000; color: #000;">&alpha;<sub>i</sub></span> = 0.75 &plusmn; 0.05. In the southern Weddell Sea, where new, young sea ice prevailed, a mean albedo value of <span style="border-top: 1px solid #000; color: #000;">&alpha;<sub>i</sub></span> = 0.38 ± 0.08 was observed. Relatively warm open water and thin, newly formed ice had the lowest albedo values, whereas relatively cold and snow covered pack ice had the highest albedo values. All sea ice areas consisted of a mixture of a large range of different sea ice types. An investigation of commonly used parameterizations of albedo as a function of surface temperature in the Weddell and Bellingshausen Sea ice areas showed that the albedo parameterizations do not work well for areas with new, young ice.