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Suzanne Dickinson

Oceanographer IV





Research Interests

Data Analysis, Computer Programming


Suzanne Dickinson processes and analyzes satellite observations over the world's oceans as part of an effort to better understand ocean-atmosphere coupling and other dynamical ocean processes. The primary datasets include wind vectors derived from scatterometer measurements and other satellite measurements.

Ms. Dickinson is also responsible for processing and analyzing other datasets, including TAO buoy data and general circulation model analyses, and for data comparisons to check measurement accuracy. She has authored or co-authored technical reports and refereed journal publications and develops analysis and graphics programs. Ms. Dickinson has been with the Laboratory since 1997.

Department Affiliation

Polar Science Center


B.A. Physics, Boston University, 1984

M.S. Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, 1994


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Temporal means and variability of Arctic sea ice melt and freeze season climate indicators using a satellite climate data record

Peng, G., M. Steele, A.C. Bliss, W.N. Meier, and S. Dickinson, "Temporal means and variability of Arctic sea ice melt and freeze season climate indicators using a satellite climate data record," Remote Sens., 10, 1328, doi:10.3390/rs10091328, 2018.

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21 Aug 2018

Information on the timing of Arctic snow and ice melt onset, sea ice opening, retreat, advance, and closing, can be beneficial to a variety of stakeholders. Sea ice modelers can use information on the evolution of the ice cover through the rest of the summer to improve their seasonal sea ice forecasts. The length of the open water season (as derived from retreat/advance dates) is important for human activities and for wildlife. Long-term averages and variability of these dates as climate indicators are beneficial to business strategic planning and climate monitoring. In this study, basic characteristics of temporal means and variability of Arctic sea ice climate indicators derived from a satellite-based climate data record from March 1979 to February 2017 melt and freeze seasons are described. Our results show that, over the Arctic region, anomalies of snow and ice melt onset, ice opening and retreat dates are getting earlier in the year at a rate of more than 5 days per decade, while that of ice advance and closing dates are getting later at a rate of more than 5 days per decade. These significant trends resulted in significant upward trends for anomalies of inner and outer ice-free periods at a rate of nearly 12 days per decade. Small but significant downward trends of seasonal ice loss and gain period anomalies were also observed at a rate of –1.48 and –0.53 days per decade, respectively. Our analyses also demonstrated that the means of these indicators and their trends are sensitive to valid data masks and regional averaging methods.

Sea state bias of ICESat in the subarctic seas

Morison, J., R. Kwok, S. Dickinson, D. Morison, C. Peralta-Ferriz, and R. Andersen, "Sea state bias of ICESat in the subarctic seas," IEEE Geosci. Remote Sens. Lett., 15, 1144-1148, doi:10.1109/LGRS.2018.2834362, 2018.

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1 Aug 2018

The fine spatial resolution of laser altimeters makes them potentially valuable to oceanography studying features at mesoscale, close to land, and in the marginal ice zone. To fulfill this promise, we must understand laser sea state bias (SSB). SSB occurs in the measurement of sea surface height in the presence of waves when the altimeter observations are preferentially influenced by particular parts (e.g., wave troughs) of the wave-covered surface. Radar altimeters have received considerable attention relating radar SSB to wave properties and wind speed. Comparatively, little attention has been devoted to the SSB of laser altimeters, and the studies of laser SSB which have been done have led to indeterminate or ambiguous results even as to sign. Here, we find that to make changes in satellite dynamic ocean topography (DOT) from the Ice, Clouds, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) period, 2004–2009, to the CryoSat-2 period, 2011–2015, consistent with hydrography plus ocean bottom pressure in the subarctic Greenland and Norwegian seas, we need to correct the ICESat DOT for SSB. On average, ICESat SSB is –18% of significant wave height in excess of 1.7 m.

Arctic ice–ocean coupling and gyre equilibration observed with remote sensing

Dewey, S., J. Morison, R. Kwok, S. Dickinson, D. Morison, and R. Andersen, "Arctic ice–ocean coupling and gyre equilibration observed with remote sensing," Geophys. Res. Lett., 45, 1499-1508, doi:10.1002/2017GL076229, 2018.

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16 Feb 2018

Model and observational evidence has shown that ocean current speeds in the Beaufort Gyre have increased and recently stabilized. Because these currents rival ice drift speeds, we examine the potential for the Beaufort Gyre's shift from a system in which the wind drives the ice and the ice drives a passive ocean to one in which the ocean often, in the absence of high winds, drives the ice. The resultant stress exerted on the ocean by the ice and the resultant Ekman pumping are reversed, without any change in average wind stress curl. Through these curl reversals, the ice‐ocean stress provides a key feedback in Beaufort Gyre stabilization. This manuscript constitutes one of the first observational studies of ice‐ocean stress inclusive of geostrophic ocean currents, by making use of recently available remote sensing data.

More Publications

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center