An improved sea ice detection algorithm using MODIS: application as a new European sea ice extent indicator
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Parera-Portell, J. A., Ubach, R., and Gignac, C.: An improved sea ice detection algorithm using MODIS: application as a new European sea ice extent indicator, The Cryosphere, 15, 2803–2818, [https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-2803-2021], 2021
The continued loss of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere due to global warming poses a threat to biota and human activities, evidencing the necessity of efficient sea ice monitoring tools. Aiming at the creation of an improved sea ice extent indicator covering the European regional seas, the new IceMap500 algorithm has been developed to classify sea ice and water at a resolution of 500m at nadir. IceMap500 features a classification strategy built upon previous MODIS sea ice extent algorithms and a new method to reclassify areas affected by resolution-breaking features inherited from the MODIS cloud mask. This approach results in an enlargement of mapped area, a reduction of potential error sources and a better delineation of the sea ice edge, while still systematically achieving accuracies above 90 %, as obtained by manual validation. Swath maps have been aggregated at a monthly scale to obtain sea ice extent with a method that is sensitive to spatio-temporal variations in the sea ice cover and that can be used as an additional error filter. The resulting dataset, covering the months of maximum and minimum sea ice extent (i.e. March and September) over 2 decades (from 2000 to 2019), demonstrates the algorithm's applicability as a monitoring tool and as an indicator, illustrating the sea ice decline at a regional scale. The European sea regions located in the Arctic, NE Atlantic and Barents seas display clear negative trends in both March (-27.98 +/- 6.01 x 10(3) km(2) yr(-1)) and September (-16.47 +/- 5.66 x 10(3) km(2) yr(-1)). Such trends indicate that the sea ice cover is shrinking at a rate of similar to 9% and similar to 13% per decade, respectively, even though the sea ice extent loss is comparatively similar to 70% greater in March.