Space-borne observations for detecting and forecasting sea ice cover extremes, June 2015 to May 2018 (EU Horizon 2020 program)

The main objective of SPICES is to develop new methods to retrieve sea ice parameters from existing (and imminent) satellite sensors to provide enhanced products for polar operators and prediction systems, specifically addressing extreme and unexpected conditions.

SPICES is in close cooperation with the ESA CCI project, which aims for most consistent time series of sea ice climate variables, while SPICES aims for increased temporal and spatial resolution with best performance on most recent data.

Here you can watch a SPICES introduction video:

SPICES - Objectives & work packages

Exemplary transect of sea ice thickness measurements (Graphic: Marcel Nicolaus, AWI)

The main objectives in SPICES also represent the different work packages of the project :

1. Establish a dataset of snow and ice measurements.

2. Improve sea ice classification based on Synthetic Aperture Radar, scatterometers and passive microwave sensors.

3. Produce and validate sea ice classification methods from radar altimeter data.

4. Develop an optimal estimation tool for combining data from many satellite instruments in deriving ice and snow parameters.

5. Improve the detection of thin ice thickness.

6. Advance methods to produce freeboard and sea ice thickness profiles from radar altimeter data.

7. Improved detection of summer sea ice properties.

8. Multi-sensor derivation of the sea ice thickness distribution.

9. Exploitation of improved and novel sea ice information for the initialization and evaluation of weekly-to-seasonal probabilistic sea ice forecasting systems.

SPICES - Our contributions and focus

Our section is strongly involved in four scientific work packages (WP):

WP1: Colocation of snow and sea ice data: Compilation and provision of in-situ (new and archive) data from manual, airborne, and autonomous measurements:

  • Sea ice thickness distributions (incl. thin ice)
  • Snow depth on sea ice
  • Surface albedo and optical properties
  • Physical properties of sea ice and snow

WP5: Characterization of summertime sea ice cover

  • Validation data of optical properties and surface characteristics
  • Analyses of ship and ice station observations

WP6: Mapping of thin ice data

  • Validation data sets for thin ice (from SMOS)
  • Interface for data fusion with CryoSat-2 data

WP7 (lead of this WP): Sea ice thickness profiles and thickness distributions

  • Improvement of the temporal resolution of CryoSat-2 sea ice thickness fields in the Arctic
  • Development of a dynamic sea ice thickness product from CryoSat-2 data
  • Uncertainty estimates of these data sets
Differences in snow cover properties on Antarctic sea ice
Differences in snow cover properties on Antarctic sea ice (Graphic: Marcel Nicolaus et al., AWI)