Connor Nelson

Connor Nelson

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Connor Nelson

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Start Year

2021 (Cohort 8)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Investigating the Arctic sea ice snowpack and modelling its interaction with microwave radiation

Research Theme

Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Processes

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Sea ice is an important component of the earth system as it acts to cool the planet whilst regulating the exchange of momentum, heat and moisture between the atmosphere and ocean. The snowpack that accumulates upon sea ice both impacts the evolution of the ice below and hinders our ability to accurately measure its thickness. But despite the two forming an inherently coupled system, snow-on-sea-ice remains poorly understood. The layered snowpack currently biases sea ice thickness retrievals from radar (microwave) altimeters by: (1) slowing down radar-wave propagation, (2) changing the radar-wave dominant scattering horizon, and (3) changing the hydrostatic equilibrium of the system, thus altering sea ice freeboard. The ultimate goal of this project is to mitigate the above biases to give a more accurate depiction of the state of Arctic sea ice and help us to better predict its future. To achieve this, I will first use sophisticated snow accumulation models to improve our understanding of the stratigraphy and properties of the snowpack, including how it has changed across the satellite era. Then, by modelling how the different layers interact with microwave radiation, I will develop a forward simulator that deduces the most likely origin of altimetric radar-wave backscatter

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