Sea-ice Measuring Methods
Anyone who wants to know the current state of the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice and how it changes over time needs observational data that is as up-to-date, precise and complete as possible. Researchers use a broad range of methods and technologies to gather data – though each has its own strengths and weaknesses, taken together, they offer a scientifically sound representation of the sea-ice cover, which plays a very important role in the Earth system, especially for the climate. Accordingly, observational data offers an indispensable basis for all fields of research involving sea ice – from sea-ice physics to mathematical modelling, which can yield robust projections of the future. Here we’ll introduce you to the most important methods and instruments used to gather reliable sea-ice data. They range from manual readings taken on the ice’s surface to those gathered by orbiting satellites.
Though the underside of the ice is particularly interesting for sea-ice research, it’s also extremely difficult to access. Nevertheless, researchers have found ways to investigate even this area, which is so essential to understanding the sea-ice system, without harming it – for instance, with the help of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).