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Temporal evolution of Arctic sea-ice temperature

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Vertical profiles of temperature from the air through the snow and ice and into the upper ocean were measured over an annual cycle, from October 1997 to October 1998, as part of a study of the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA). These observations were made at nine locations, including young ice, ponded ice, undeformed ice, a hummock, a consolidated ridge and a new blocky ridge. All of the sites had similar environmental forcing, with air temperatures at the different sites typically within 1°C. In general, the seasonal evolution of ice temperature followed a pattern of (1) a cold front propagating down through the ice in the fall, (2) cold ice temperatures and ice growth in late fall, winter and early spring, and (3) warming to the freezing point in the summer. Within this general pattern, there was considerable spatial variability in the temperature profiles, particularly during winter. For example, snow/ice interface temperatures varied by as much as 30°C between sites. The coldest ice temperatures were observed in a consolidated ridge with a thin snow cover, while the warmest were in ponded ice. The warm pond temperatures were a result of two factors: the initial cooling in the fall was retarded by freezing of pond water, and the depressed surface of the pond was quickly covered by a deep layer of snow (0.6 m). In an 8 m thick unconsolidated ridge, the cold front did not penetrate to the ice bottom during winter, and a portion of the interior remained below freezing during the summer. The spatial variability in snow depth and ice conditions can result in situations where there is significant horizontal transport of heat.

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.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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