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Geographical distribution and volume of Antarctic icebergs derived from ship observation data

  • Yury A. Romanov (a1), Nina A. Romanova (a1) and Peter Romanov (a2)

Abstract

Information on the occurrence, spatial distribution and morphometric characteristics of Antarctic icebergs is needed in a large number of applications including navigation, heat and freshwater balance calculations, biochemistry of the ocean and climatology. Using over 60 000 ship observations of icebergs in the Southern Ocean collected since the end of the 1940s we have produced a detailed map of the distribution of Antarctic icebergs as well as maps of related statistics including the standard deviation, minimum and maximum values of the iceberg concentration and the probability of iceberg-free observations. The study incorporated small and medium-sized icebergs with a length of <10 nautical miles. Most observations were taken during the warm period of the year, from December to April. It is shown that the iceberg distribution across the Southern Ocean is determined by the location of calving regions and peculiarities of the atmospheric circulation and ocean currents. Iceberg concentration data combined with information on the iceberg size and shape distribution have been used to evaluate the area-integrated characteristics of Antarctic icebergs. The instantaneous number of icebergs in the Southern Ocean was estimated as 132 269 with an uncertainty of 7%. The area and volume of icebergs were equal correspondingly to 55 805 km2 and 16 893 km3 with uncertainties of 32–33%.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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