Combined satellite- and ULS-derived sea-ice flux in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica

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Several years of daily microwave satellite ice drift are combined with moored upward-looking sonar (ULS) ice drafts into an ice-volume flux record at points along a flux gate across the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Monthly ice transport varies at the mooring locations from a maximum export of 0.4 m3s−1 near Joinville Island to −0.4 m3s−1 imported along the Fimbul and Riiser–Larsen ice-shelf margins. Winter peaks are observed at each end of the flux gate, where high concentrations of deformed ice are advected in and out of the basin along the coastline. The central gyre, in contrast, exhibits negligible seasonality and much smaller volume transports. During the period of overlapping ULS operation, the mean monthly integrated ice export west of the gyre center is 59 × 103 m3s−1, and the import in the East Wind Drift is −17 × 103 m3s−1. ULS data are compared with ERS satellite observation of radar backscatter to obtain an empirical relationship between ice thickness and the rate of change of backscatter with incidence angle. Resulting proxy ice-thickness data are combined with Special Sensor Microwave/Imager-derived ice velocities to obtain seasonally varying estimates of net ice-volume flux for the period 1992-98. Significant inter-annual variability is observed in ice-volume flux expressed as fresh-water transport. A maximum annual mean of 0.054 Sv is observed in 1992, with a minimum of 0.015 Sv in 1996. A 6 year mean transport of 0.032 Sv is observed. Maximum seasonal ice export occurs in July 1992, with a minimum in November 1996. The 10 year mean area flux is 30 × 103 m2s−1. Inter-annual variations in net volume flux closely follow variations in area flux, with summer minima in 1990/91 and 1996/97. Maximum area transport occurs in 1991, and although this predates the ERS-1 scatterometer data, ice-thickness estimates by Harms and others confirm 1991 as a decadal peakin net integrated fresh-water transport.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

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