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Antarctic sea-ice velocity as derived from SSM/I imagery

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Sea-ice velocities derived from remotely sensed microwave imagery of the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) have been analyzed for changes over time in Antarctic sea-ice velocity, for the period 1988–2004. Year-to-year variability in mean Antarctic annual SSM/I-derived ice speed is small (17 year standard deviation (SD) = 0.008 m s−1), with greater interannual variability in the zonal (eastward positive) velocity components (17 year SD = 0.016 m s−1). Seasonally, minimum ice speed is encountered during summer, when nearly all Antarctic sea ice is within the marginal ice zone. Ice motion peaks during winter and spring, due to high velocities encountered in the outer pack of the seasonal sea-ice zone. The correlation (R2 = 0.47) between winter Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and mean winter ice speed highlights the importance of atmospheric forcing on sea-ice dynamics. The spatial pattern of the correlation of the standardized SAM index with the June–November ice speed exhibits a wave-3 pattern, which matches the sea-level pressure distribution. Sea-ice speed in the upstream regions of quasi-stationary centres of low sea-level pressure is likely to increase (decrease) during high (low) SAM years, and the opposite for sea-ice speed in the downstream regions of the centres.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2006

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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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