We studied two issues to be considered in the calculation of parameters characterizing sea ice deformation: the effect of uncertainties in an automatically retrieved sea ice drift field, and the influence of the type of drift vector grid. Sea ice deformation changes the local ice mass balance and the interaction between atmosphere, ice, and ocean, and constitutes a hazard to marine traffic and operations. Due to numerical effects, the results of deformation retrievals may predict, e.g., openings and closings of the ice cover that do not exist in reality. We focus specifically on fields of ice drift obtained from synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery and analyze the Propagated Drift Retrieval Error (PDRE) and the Boundary Definition Error (BDE). From the theory of error propagation, the PDRE for the calculated deformation parameters can be estimated. To quantify the BDE, we devise five different grid types and compare theoretical expectation and numerical results for different deformation parameters assuming three scenarios: pure divergence, pure shear, and a mixture of both. Our findings for both sources of error help to set up optimal deformation retrieval schemes and are also useful for other applications working with vector fields and scalar parameters derived therefrom.
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