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On the Sea-Ice Regime of the Ross Sea, Antarctica

  • Andrew P. Sturman (a1) and Mark R. Anderson (a2)

Abstract

A study is made of the sea-ice regime of the Ross Sea, Antarctica, using ESMR passive microwave data and supporting information. Inferences are made of the processes responsible for observed spatial and temporal sea-ice variations. Air flow appears to have a dominant influence on sea-ice distribution and movement, with oceanic circulation playing a more minor role. This is particularly so with coastal polynya development, where katabatic winds are important. It has been possible to identify broad areas of ice convergence and divergence by assimilating the rather limited oceanic and atmospheric information with observed sea-ice variations. In spite of some basic physical similarities of the Weddell and Ross Seas, it is apparent that the major differences in their sea-ice regimes are due to the differing roles of oceanic and atmospheric circulation in each area. The Antarctic Peninsula plays a key role in these differences. Suggestions for further research are also considered.

Résumé

On étudie le régime de la glace der mer dans la Ross Sea, à l’aide de données micro ondes passives (ESMR) et d’informations complémentaires; on en déduit les processus responsables des variations spatiotemporelles de la glace de mer. Le vent paraȋt avoir une influence dominante sur la répartition de la glace de mer et son mouvement, alors que la circulation océanique ne joue qu’un rôle mineur, notamment dans le développement des polynies cotières dans les régions où les vents catabatiques sont importants. Il a été possible d’identifier de vastes étendues de convergence et de divergence de glace en associant les rares informations océaniques et atmosphériques aux variations observées de la glace de mer. Malgré certaines similitudes physiques entre le Weddell Sea et Ross Sea, il apparaît que les différences majeures dans leurs régimes de glace de mer sont dues aux rôles différents des circulations océaniques et atmosphériques dans ces deux régions. La Antarctic Peninsula joue un rôle clef dans ces différences. On présente aussi des suggestions pour de futures recherches.

Zusammenfassung

Mit Hilfe von Daten des passiven ESMR-Mikrowellensystems und zusätzlichen Informationen wurde das Verhalten des Meereises in der Ross-See, Antarktika, untersucht. Für die Prozesse, die für die beobachteten räumlichen und zeitlichen Veränderungen des Meereises verantwortlich sind, werden Folgerungen hergeleitet. Die Strömung der Luft scheint einen beherrschenden Einfluss auf die Verteilung und Bewegung des Meereises zu haben, während ozeanische Strömungen eine untergeordnete Rolle spielen. Dies gilt vor allem für die Entwicklung der Küsten-Polynien, wo katabatische Winde von Bedeutung sind. Durch Vergleich der eher spärlichen ozeanischen und atmosphärischen Informationen mit beobachteten Meereisveränderungen war es möglich, weite Gebiete mit Eiskonvergenz bzw. -divergenz zu erkennen. Trotz einiger grundsätzlicher physikalischer Ähnlichkeiten zwischen der Weddell- und der Ross-See ergeben sich offensichtlich die grösseren Unterschiede im Verhalten ihres Meereises aus der verschiedenen Bedeutung der ozeanischen und atmosphärischen Zirkulation im jeweiligen Gebiet. Die Antarctic Peninsula spielt dabei eine Schlüsselrolle. Vorschläge für weitere Untersuchungen werden vorgelegt.

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References

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On the Sea-Ice Regime of the Ross Sea, Antarctica

  • Andrew P. Sturman (a1) and Mark R. Anderson (a2)

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