Hudson Bay (HB) is the largest semi-inland sea in the Northern Hemisphere, connecting with the Arctic Ocean through the Foxe Basin and the northern Atlantic Ocean through the Hudson Strait. HB is covered by ice and snow in winter, which completely melts in summer. For about six months each year, satellite remote sensing of sea surface salinity (SSS) is possible over open water. SSS links freshwater contributions from river discharge, sea ice melt/freeze, and surface precipitation/evaporation. Given the strategic importance of HB, SSS has great potential in monitoring the HB freshwater cycle and studying its relationship with climate change. However, SSS retrieved in polar regions (poleward of 50°) from currently operational space-based L-band microwave instruments has large uncertainty (~ 1 psu) mainly due to sensitivity degradation in cold water (<5°C) and sea ice contamination. This study analyzes SSS from NASA Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) and European Space Agency (ESA) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity(SMOS) missions in the context of HB freshwater contents. We found that the main source of the year-to-year SSS variability is sea ice melting, in particular, the onset time and places of ice melt in the first couple of months of open water season. The freshwater contribution from surface forcing P-E is smaller in magnitude comparing with sea ice contribution but lasts on longer time scale through the whole open water season. River discharge is comparable with P-E in magnitude but peaks before ice melt. The spatial and temporal variations of freshwater contents largely exceed the remote sensed SSS uncertainty. This fact justifies the use of remote sensed SSS for monitoring the HB freshwater cycle.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited