Observing Arctic Sea Ice
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Observing Arctic Sea Ice

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    Our understanding of Arctic sea ice and its wide-ranging influence is deeply rooted in observation. Advancing technologies have profoundly improved our ability to observe Arctic sea ice, document its processes and properties, and describe atmosphere-ice-ocean interactions with unprecedented detail. Yet, our progress toward better understanding the Arctic sea ice system is mired by the stark disparities between observations that tend to be siloed by method, scientific discipline, and application. This article presents a review and philosophical design for observing sea ice and accelerating our understanding of the Arctic sea ice system. We give a brief history of Arctic sea ice observations and showcase the 2018 melt season within the context of five observational themes: spatial heterogeneity, temporal variability, cross-disciplinary science, scalability, and retrieval uncertainty. We synthesize buoy data, optical imagery, satellite retrievals, and airborne measurements to demonstrate how disparate data sets can be woven together to transcend observational-scale issues. The results show that there are limitations to interpreting any single data set alone. However, many of these limitations can be surmounted by combining observations that cross spatial and temporal scales. We conclude the article with pathways toward coordinating across observational platforms in order to: (1) optimize the scientific, operational, and community return on observational investments, and (2) facilitate a richer understanding of Arctic sea ice and its role in the climate system.
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    Oceanography (2022)
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    CC BY
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