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Factors affecting fast-ice break-up frequency in Lützow-Holm Bay, Antarctica

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Antarctic fast-ice variation is investigated using satellite images and ship's ice navigation logs, focusing on break-up phenomena in Lützow-Holm Bay. Although spatio-temporal scales for break-up events vary somewhat for each event, their commencement is generally in autumn and almost always in the same region. Specifically, the 1997/98 break-up event occurred over a wide area and continued for a long time after the initial break-up. Since then, break-ups have recurred until 2004, and a total of 20 annual events have been detected and monitored since 1980. Moreover, information from icebreaker navigation logs shows that unstable fast-ice conditions occurred in the 1980s and after the late 1990s. From the analysis of surface meteorological data and the offshore pack-ice distribution, anomalously shallow snow-cover depths and a peculiar retreat pattern of the ice edge are found to be factors that favour fast-ice break-up. The pack-ice distribution controls the propagation of ocean swell inside the bay; encroaching swells are likely to mechanically disintegrate fast-ice during autumn prior to the annual formation of the protective pack-ice cover to the north. Less snow cover also leads to fast-ice weakening as the melt season progresses and broken floes are then transported offshore by prevailing southerly winds.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-11-01

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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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