The CCCma Synthetic Sea Ice Thickness Climatology

Very few measurments of ice thickness are available. In the Arctic there are several transects of submarine upward-looking sonar data available [see e.g. the compilation of Bourke and Garrett (Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 13:259-280, 1987)], but in the Antarctic there are only a few drill-hole observations. These data are insufficient to construct a reliable, global climatology.

Climate modelers often assign sea ice thickness values of the Arctic to be 3 m and the Antarctic to be 1 m (or something similar). The CCCma Synthetic Ice Climatology provides an option to this specification, including spatial and temporal variation in the ice thickness. It is an estimate of mean monthly global ice thickness for use in climate model studies in the absence of an observationally based climatology. Please note: It is not based on direct observations of sea ice thickness; rather it is an inference of ice thickness from climatological surface air temperature. The resulting monthly ice thickness fields have a geographical distribution which is broadly consistent with the available observations. This synthetic climatology was used by McFarlane et al. (J. Clim., 5(10): 1013-1044, 1992) to deduce the required heat flux at the base of the slab ocean in their GCM.

Data provided by Greg Flato of CCCma. Last update: October 15, 1999.