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Observations of unusual fast-ice conditions in the southwest Ross Sea, Antarctica: preliminary analysis of iceberg and storminess effects

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Massive tabular icebergs (∼1000 km2 surface area, ∼1011 kg mass) arrived in the southwest Ross Sea in early 2001 where they remained relatively immobile for the next 4 years. During the period of their presence, extensive landfast sea ice (fast ice) waxed and waned along the Victoria Land coast, with maximum coverage exceeding typical coverage prior to the arrival of the icebergs by a factor of 5. The purposes of this study are to determine (1) whether the extensive 'iceberg blockade' extending from Ross Island to Drygalski Ice Tongue was indeed, as intuition suggests, responsible for the unusual fast-ice conditions, and (2) how storm frequency, intensity and seasonal timing may have mitigated the effects of the icebergs. Our simple analysis of glaciological and atmospheric conditions observed during 2001–05 suggests that iceberg movement alone is not sufficient to explain fast-ice variability; and, in fact, it is the detailed interplay between storms and iceberg location that determine this variability.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • 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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