Improved machine-learning-based open-water-sea-ice-cloud discrimination over wintertime Antarctic sea ice using MODIS thermal-infrared imagery

Stephan Paul, Marcus Huntemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

The frequent presence of cloud cover in polar regions limits the use of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and similar instruments for the investigation and monitoring of sea-ice polynyas compared to passive-microwave-based sensors. The very low thermal contrast between present clouds and the sea-ice surface in combination with the lack of available visible and near-infrared channels during polar nighttime results in deficiencies in the MODIS cloud mask and dependent MODIS data products. This leads to frequent misclassifications of (i) present clouds as sea ice or open water (false negative) and (ii) open-water and/or thin-ice areas as clouds (false positive), which results in an underestimation of actual polynya area and subsequently derived information. Here, we present a novel machine-learning-based approach using a deep neural network that is able to reliably discriminate between clouds, sea-ice, and open-water and/or thin-ice areas in a given swath solely from thermal-infrared MODIS channels and derived additional information. Compared to the reference MODIS sea-ice product for the year 2017, our data result in an overall increase of 20% in annual swath-based coverage for the Brunt Ice Shelf polynya, attributed to an improved cloud-cover discrimination and the reduction of false-positive classifications. At the same time, the mean annual polynya area decreases by 44%through the reduction of false-negative classifications of warm clouds as thin ice. Additionally, higher spatial coverage results in an overall better subdaily representation of thin-ice conditions that cannot be reconstructed with current state-of-The-Art cloud-cover compensation methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1551-1565
Number of pages15
JournalCryosphere
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Mar 2021

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