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A Statistical Method for Identifying Sea Ice Leads (309908)*Hannah Director, Colorado School of Mines
Keywords: climate science, spatial statistics
Sea ice, or frozen ocean water, plays an important role in regulating Earth’s climate. In particular, sea ice affects freshwater storage, air-sea energy and momentum transfer, and the reflection of radiation back to space. Leads, or long narrow cracks in the ice, influence how sea ice forms, melts, and moves. To better understand lead behavior, leads must be identified and tracked across space and time. Observational sea ice data and climate model output provide gridded fields of the proportion of area in each grid box that contains sea ice. We develop a statistical method that efficiently identifies leads from this data. Uncertainty estimates of the presence and location of leads are also obtained. We apply this method to assess the frequency of lead formation, the length and structure of typical leads, and the conditions of the sea ice and surrounding environment preceding when these leads form.