Date

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Department

Earth and Environmental Sciences

First Adviser

Ramage, Joan

Abstract

The warming rate in the Russian High Arctic (RHA) (36~158˚E, 73~82˚N) is outpacing the pan-Arctic average, and its effect on the small glaciers across this region needs further examination. The temporal variation and spatial distribution of surface melt onset date (MOD) and total melt days (TMD) throughout the Novaya Zemlya (NovZ) and Severnaya Zemlya (SevZ) archipelagoes serve as good indicators of ice mass ablation and glacier response to regional climate change in the RHA. However, due to the harsh environment, long-term glaciological observations are limited, necessitating the application of remotely sensed data to study the surface melt dynamics. The high sensitivity to liquid water and the ability to work without solar illumination and penetrate non-precipitating clouds make microwave remote sensing an ideal tool to detect melt in this region. This work extracts resolution-enhanced passive and active microwave data from different periods and retrieves a decadal melt record for NovZ and SevZ. The high correlation among passive and active data sets instills confidence in the results. The mean MOD is June 20th on SevZ and June 10th on NovZ during the period of 1992-2012. The average TMDs are 47 and 67 days on SevZ and NovZ from 1995 to 2011, respectively. NovZ had large interannual variability in the MOD, but its TMD generally increased. SevZ MOD is found to be positively correlated to local June reanalysis air temperature at 850hPa geopotential height and occurs significantly earlier (~0.73 days/year, p-value < 0.01) from 1992 to 2011. SevZ also experienced a longer TMD trend (~0.75 days/year, p-value < 0.05) from 1995 to 2011. Annual mean TMD on both islands are positively correlated with regional summer mean reanalysis air temperature and negatively correlated to local sea ice extent. These strong correlations might suggest that the Russian High Arctic glaciers are vulnerable to the continuously diminishing sea ice extent, the associated air temperature increase and amplifying positive ice-albedo feedback, which are all projected to continue into the future.

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