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Surface properties and processes of perennial Antarctic sea ice in summer

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Ice-core and snow data from the Amundsen, Bellingshausen and Weddell Seas, Antarctica, show that the formation of superimposed ice and the development of sea-water-filled gaplayers with high algal standing stocks is typical of the perennial sea ice in summer. The coarse-grained and dense snow had salinities mostly below 0.1‰. A layer of fresh superimposed ice had a mean thickness of 0.04-0.12 m. Gap layers 0.04-0.08 m thick extended downwards from 0.02 to 0.14 m below the water level. These gaps were populated by diatom standing stocks upto 439 g L-1chlorophyll a. We propose a comprehensive heuristic model of summer processes, where warming and the reversal of temperature gradients cause major transformations in snow and ice properties. The warming also causes the reopening of incompletely frozen slush layers caused by flood-freeze cycles during winter. Alternatively, superimposed ice forms at the cold interface between snow and slush in the case of flooding with negative freeboard. Combined, these explain the initial formation of gap layers by abiotic means alone. The upward growth of superimposed ice above the water level competes with a steady submergence of floes due to bottom and internal melting and accumulation of snow.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2001-12-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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