FABIAN: A Daily Product of Fractional Austral-summer Blue Ice over ANtarctica during 2000– 2021 Based on MODIS Imagery Using Google Earth Engine


Antarctic blue ice areas are exposed due to erosion and sublimation of snow. At the same time, surface melt can form surface types that are spectrally similar to blue ice, especially at low elevations. These are termed melt-induced blue ice areas. Both types of blue ice are sensitive indicators of climate change. Satellite remote sensing is a powerful technique to retrieve the spatial extent of blue ice areas and their variation in time. Yet, existing satellite-derived blue ice area products are either mono-temporal for the entire Antarctic ice sheet, or multi-temporal for a limited area. Here, we present FABIAN, a product of blue ice fraction over Antarctica, derived from the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) archive covering the period 2000– 2021. A spectral mixture analysis (SMA) in Google Earth Engine, based on a careful selection of endmember spectra, accurately reconstructs the reflectance observed by MODIS in blue ice areas. Based on a validation with contemporaneous Sentinel-2 images, FABIAN has a root mean square error in blue ice fraction of approximately 10% $∼$ 20% in wind-induced blue ice areas, and 20% $∼$ 30% in melt-induced blue ice areas across six selected test sites in the coastal East Antarctic ice sheet. FABIAN is challenged in regions with shallow melt streams and lakes, since their spectral profiles are similar to those from blue ice areas in MODIS bands. For further analyses and applications, FABIAN holds the potential for (1) deriving annual blue ice area maps, (2) distinguishing between wind-and melt-induced blue ice types, (3) evaluating and correcting (regional) climate models, and (4) analyzing temporal variations in blue ice abundance and exposure.

Remote Sensing of Environment