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A field and numerical study of the evolution of sea-ice thickness in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, 1998–99

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During two cruises in 1998 and 1999, we examined drift and ridging characteristics of sea ice in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Mean ice thickness in the western Ross Sea in autumn was 0.5 m, while higher level-ice thicknesses, greater areal coverages of ridges and higher sails were found in the central and eastern Ross Sea in summer. Near the continent, ice drifted westward near the coast and turned eastward further north. We use a regional sea-ice–mixed-layer–pycnocline model to initiate backward trajectories at the time and location of field observations and examine the dynamic and thermodynamic processes that determine ice thickness along these trajectories. Model results agree with previously published field data to indicate that thermodynamic and dynamic thickening and snow-ice formation each contribute significantly to the ice mass of the summer ice field in the central and eastern Ross Sea. For first-year ice in the western Ross Sea, model results and field data both indicate that thermodynamic thickening is the dominant process that determines ice thickness, with dynamic thickening also contributing 20% to the net ice-thickening rate. However, model results fail to reproduce the prevalence of snow-ice formation that was seen in field data.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-06-01

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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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