Observations from the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) are analyzed to develop a consistent data set suitable for the validation of snow and sea ice components used in climate models. Since the snow depth is a crucial variable to properly determine the ice thickness evolution, several methods are tested to estimate the actual snow depth at the exact location of the measured internal temperatures. Snow and ice thickness gauge measurements show high spatial variability at small spatial scales. Consequently, individual measurements of snow/ice thickness are not representative of the thickness at the locations where temperature profiles were measured. Observed skin temperatures and snow internal temperature profiles suggest that the mean winter snow cover at the reference mass balance site was thicker by 11 cm when compared with gauge observations at a small distance from that reference site. The mean winter snow cover thickness measured at the SHEBA mass balance site, Pittsburgh, is larger by a factor of 2.3 when compared to the snow depth derived from precipitation measurements. Assuming continuity of heat fluxes at the snow-ice interface, an effective snow thermal conductivity of 0.50 Wm(-1) K-1 is calculated. This is significantly higher than values generally used in climate models (0.31 Wm(-1) K-1) or derived from in situ measurements (0.14 Wm(-1) K-1) at SHEBA. Ocean heat fluxes, inferred from ice thickness and internal temperature measurements at various sites, are very consistent and match reasonably well those derived from turbulence measurements and a bulk formulation. A heat budget of surface fluxes shows a mean annual net imbalance of 1.5 Wm(-2), with a mean energy deficit of 3.5 Wm(-2) during winter and a mean surplus of 6.4 Wm(-2) during summer.
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