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Wind-wave attenuation under sea ice in the Arctic: a review of remote sensing capabilities
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  • Fabrice Collard,
  • Louis Marie,
  • Frédéric Nouguier,
  • Marcel Kleinherenbrink,
  • Frithjof Ehlers,
  • Fabrice Ardhuin
Fabrice Collard
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Louis Marie
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Frédéric Nouguier
LOPS, UMR 6523
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Marcel Kleinherenbrink
Delft University of Technology
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Frithjof Ehlers
TU Delft
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Fabrice Ardhuin
Univ. Brest, CNRS, Ifremer, IRD

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Wind-generated waves strongly interact with sea ice and impact air-sea exchanges, operations at sea, and marine life. Unfortunately, the dissipation of wave energy is not well quantified and its possible effect on upper ocean mixing and ice drift are still mysterious. As the Arctic is opening up and wave energy increases, the limited amount of \emph{in situ} observations is a clear limitation to our scientific understanding. Both radar and optical remote sensing has revealed the frequent presence of waves under the ice, and could be used more systematically to investigate wave-ice interactions. Here we show that, in cloud-free conditions, Sentinel-2 images exhibit brightness modulations in ice-covered water, consistent with the presence of waves measured a few hours later by the ICESat-2 laser altimeter. We also show that a full-focus SAR processing of Sentinel-3 radar altimeter data reveals the presence of waves under the ice and their wavelengths, within minutes of Sentinel-2 imagery. The SWIM instrument on CFOSAT is another source of quantitative evidence for the direction and wavelengths of waves under the ice, when ice conditions are spatially homogeneous. In the presence of sea ice, a quantitative wave height measurement method is not yet available for all-weather near-nadir radar instruments such as altimeters and SWIM. However, their systematic co-location with optical instruments on Sentinel-2 and ICESat-2, which are less frequently able to observe waves in sea ice, may provide the empirical transfer functions needed to interpret and calibrate the radar data, greatly expanding the available data on wave-ice interactions.