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Sensitivity of the Arctic sea ice cover to the summer surface scattering layer
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  • Madison Margaret Smith,
  • Bonnie Light,
  • Amy Macfarlane,
  • Donald Perovich,
  • Marika M Holland,
  • Matthew D. Shupe
Madison Margaret Smith
University of Washington

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Bonnie Light
University of Washigton
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Amy Macfarlane
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
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Donald Perovich
Dartmouth College
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Marika M Holland
National Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
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Matthew D. Shupe
University of Colorado Boulder
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The ‘surface scattering layer’ (SSL) is the highly-scattering, coarse-grained ice layer that forms on the surface of melting, drained sea ice during spring and summer. Ice of sufficient thickness with an SSL has an observed persistent broadband albedo of ~0.65, resulting in a strong influence on the regional solar partitioning. Experiments during the MOSAiC expedition showed that the SSL re-forms in approximately one day following manual removal. Coincident spectral albedo measurements provide insight into the SSL evolution, where albedo increased on sunny days with higher solar insolation. Comparison with experiments in radiative transfer and global climate models show that the sea ice albedo is greatly impacted by the SSL thickness. The presence of SSL is a significant component of the ice-albedo feedback, with an albedo impact of the same order as melt ponds. Changes in SSL and implications for Arctic sea ice within a warming climate are uncertain.