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Platelet ice and the land-fast sea ice of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

  • Inga J. Smith (a1), Patricia J. Langhorne (a1), Timothy G. Haskell (a2), H. Joe Trodahl (a3), Russell Frew (a4) and M. Ross Vennell (a5)...

Abstract

Dendritic crystals of platelet ice appear beneath the columnar land-fast sea ice of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. These leaf-like crystals are frozen into place by the advancing columnar growth. The platelets most probably begin to appear during July although in some parts of the Sound they may not appear at all. In addition, the amount and extent of platelet ice within the Sound varies from year to year. Previous authors have suggested that the formation of platelet ice is linked to the presence of the nearby ice shelf. It is a matter of debate whether these platelets form at depth and then float upwards or whether they grow in slightly supercooled water at the ice/water interface. The phenomenon is similar to that observed in the Weddell Sea region, but previous authors have suggested the two regions may experience different processes. This paper presents the results of field-work conducted in McMurdo Sound in 1999. Ice-structure analysis, isotopic analysis and salinity and temperature measurements near the ice/water interface are presented. Freezing points are calculated, and the possible existence of supercooling is discussed in relation to existing conjectures about the origin of platelets.

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References

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