Date of this Version
Springtime microwave brightness temperatures over first-year ice are examined for the southern Kara Sea. Snow emissivity changes are revealed by episodic drops in the 37- to 18-GHz brightness temperature gradient ratio measured by the Nimbus 7 scanning multichannel microwave radiometer. We suggest that the negative gradient ratios in spring 1982 result from increased scatter at 37 GHz due to the formation of a near-surface hoar layer. This interpretation is supported by the results of a surface radiation balance model that shows the melt signature occurring at below freezing temperatures but under clear-sky conditions with increased solar input to the surface. Published observations from the Greenland ice cap show a surface hoar layer forming under similar atmospheric conditions owing to the increased penetration and absorption of solar radiation just below the surface layer. In spring/early summer 1984 similar gradient ratio signatures occur. They appear to be due to several days of freeze-thaw cycling following the movement of a low-pressure system through the region. These changes in surface emissivity represent the transition from winter to summer conditions (as defined by the microwave response) and are shown to be regional in extent and to vary with the synoptic circulation.