The De-Icing Comparison Experiment (D-ICE): A Study of Broadband Radiometric Measurements under Icing Conditions in the Arctic

Christopher Cox, Sara Morris, Taneil Uttal, Ross Burgener, Emiel Hall, Mark Kutchenreiter, Allison McComiskey, Charles Long, Bryan Thomas, James Wendell

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8 Scopus Citations


Surface-based measurements of broadband shortwave (solar) and longwave (infrared) radiative fluxes using thermopile radiometers are made regularly around the globe for scientific and operational environmental monitoring. The occurrence of ice on sensor windows in cold environments - whether snow, rime, or frost - is a common problem that is difficult to prevent as well as difficult to correct in post-processing. The Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) community recognizes radiometer icing as a major outstanding measurement uncertainty. Towards constraining this uncertainty, the De-Icing Comparison Experiment (D-ICE) was carried out at the NOAA Atmospheric Baseline Observatory in Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, from August 2017 to July 2018. The purpose of D-ICE was to evaluate existing ventilation and heating technologies developed to mitigate radiometer icing. D-ICE consisted of 20 pyranometers and 5 pyrgeometers operating in various ventilator housings alongside operational systems that are part of NOAA's Barrow BSRN station and the US Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program North Slope of Alaska and Oliktok Point observatories. To detect icing, radiometers were monitored continuously using cameras, with a total of more than 1 million images of radiometer domes archived. Ventilator and ventilator-heater performance overall was skillful with the average of the systems mitigating ice formation 77% (many >90%) of the time during which icing conditions were present. Ventilators without heating elements were also effective and capable of providing heat through roughly equal contributions of waste energy from the ventilator fan and adiabatic heating downstream of the fan. This provided ~0.6 degrees C of warming, enough to subsaturate the air up to a relative humidity (with respect to ice) of ~105%. Because the mitigation technologies performed well, a near complete record of verified ice-free radiometric fluxes was assembled for the duration of the campaign. This well-characterized data set is suitable for model evaluation, in particular for the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) first Special Observing Period (SOP1). We used the data set to calculate short- and long-term biases in iced sensors, finding that biases can be up to +60 W m-2 (longwave) and -211 to +188 W m-2 (shortwave). However, because of the frequency of icing, mitigation of ice by ventilators, cloud conditions, and the timing of icing relative to available sunlight, the biases in the monthly means were generally less than the aggregate uncertainty attributed to other conventional sources in both the shortwave and longwave.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1205-1224
Number of pages20
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-77633


  • Arctic
  • broadband
  • radiometric measurements


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