C. Heuzé , L. Zhou, M. Mohrmann, and A. Lemos (2021) Spaceborne infrared imagery for early detection of Weddell Polynya openings, The Cryosphere, vol. 15, pp. 3401–3421, doi:10.5194/tc-15-3401-2021.
We use daily infrared satellite data since 1982 to investigate the Weddell Polynya, an opening in the Antarctic winter sea ice. We find:
- That although the usual narrative is that the Weddell Polynya opened once over 1974-1976, and then did not re-open until 2016, there were in fact 30 polynyas in our dataset.
- That our algorithm could detect up to 15 days in advance that an opening was imminent, returning no false positive.
- By comparing infrared temperature to in-situ and reanalysis data, that variations in specific infrared properties can indicate whether the polynya opens in response to upwelling or a lead.
Infrared data however are strongly affected by clouds, which are very common in Antarctica in winter. We therefore suggest that infrared data be used after the opening, to obtain scientific information, but not for operational purposes (at least, not without extra data).