Melt Pond Fraction Statistics From High Resolution Satellite (MEDEA) Images

MEDEA Melt Pond Fraction Data Set 

For the purpose of  sea ice model validation we have compiled a data set of melt pond statistics.  The data set was compiled by Melinda Webster (now NASA GSFC) during a post-doc appointment at the Polar Science Center/APL/UW.  The data set is generated from previously classified high resolution visible band satellite images following Webster et al. 2015. The data set contains two separate sets, one covering the periods of 1999-2014 which was derived by Melinda (see Webster et al. 2015 for details), the other was derived by Florence Fetterer (NSIDC) using a supervised classification technique and covers the period 1999-2001. This data set is reformatted from a data set available at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (Data & descriptions are available at:  The image data source has been referred to as Global Fiducial Imagery, Literal Image Derived Products, National Technical Means images, and MEDEA Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis). For simplicity we refer to the images as MEDEA images.  Unprocessed images can be accessed via (Select USGS Global Fiducials). 

Derived Melt Pond Fraction Data:

DescriptionMelt Pond Fraction from MEDEA High Resolution Satellite Data
Time Period1999-2014
Geographic AreaArctic Ocean (See Map)
Parameter(s)Melt Pond Fraction (fraction of sea ice covered by melt ponds)
Data AccessMet Pond Fraction Data File (Excel Spread Sheet)

Processed Images (Melt Pond Areas identified):

Coming Soon

Input Images: (Select USGS Global Fiducials). 

Area Coverage:


Locations of MEDEA images in data file (2000-2011, Webster Segment only)

Data Processing:


(top row) The raw MEDEA imagery and (bottom row) the results of key steps in the classification process. (a2) An example of treating ridge shadows, which brightens shadows to ridge intensity. (b2) An example of the open water mask application (black) with light grey representing nilas in the thin ice class, and dark grey representing first‐year ice in the sea ice class. Note the change in scale. (c2) The classification results for melt ponds (light blue) and the sea ice class (dark grey). The sea ice class consists of first‐year ice of varying thickness in the bottom two‐thirds of the image, and multiyear sea ice in the upper third of the image. (b2) The effect of adding in Steps 7 and 8 in the classification process. The additional light‐colored ponds are cyan, while ponds identified without Steps 7 and 8 are blue. Open water is black and sea ice grey (From Webster et al. 2015)

Comparison with MODIS retrieved melt pond fraction

Goal of this project was to validate a new Melt Pond Parameterization for our numerical sea ice model.  For this purpose,  a data set with greater temporal and spatial coverage is more useful. We therefore used the MEDEA derived MPF and compared it to data derived from MODIS (Roesel et al. 2011, data set   Note: Until October 25, 2017, this the data set had an error in the documentation and stated contains the relative melt-pond fraction. This was wrong. It has been the melt-pond fraction per grid cell)


Comparison of MEDEA derive Melt Pond Fraction with MODIS derived Melt Pond Fraction (Roesel et al. 2011). 


Comparison of MODIS derived melt pond fraction and model predicted melt pond fraction (See Zhang et al. XXXX for details)

How to Cite: 

If you like to cite the data directly, please use below references:
Data Reference: Fetterer, F., S. Wilds, and J. Sloan. 2008. Arctic sea ice melt pond statistics and maps, 1999-2001, [list the dates of the data used]. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Data Reference: Webster, M. A., I. G. Rigor, D. K. Perovich, J. A. Richter-Menge, C. M. Polashenski, and B. Light (2015), Seasonal evolution of melt ponds on Arctic sea ice, J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 120, doi:10.1002/2015JC011030.

If you like to cite the their use for model validation, inter-comparison with MODIS data and our sea ice model, please use:

Jinlun Zhang1, Axel Schweiger1, Melinda Webster2, Bonnie Light1, Michael Steele1, Carin Ashjian3, Robert Campbell4, and Yvette Spitz. Melt pond conditions on declining Arctic sea ice over 1979–2016: Model development, validation, and results, JGR-Oceans, Accepted for Publication

This work was sponsored in part by NASA Cryospheric Program Grants: NNX15AG68G and NNX17AD27G

Contact (Axel Schweiger, axel at apl uw edu)