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On the extraordinary snow on the sea ice off East Antarctica in late winter, 2012


Toyota, T and Massom, R and Lecomte, O and Nomura, D and Heil, P and Tamura, T and Fraser, AD, On the extraordinary snow on the sea ice off East Antarctica in late winter, 2012, Deep-Sea Research. Part II, 131 pp. 53-67. ISSN 0967-0645 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Elsevier

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.02.003


In late winter-early spring 2012, the second Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystems Experiment (SIPEX II) was conducted off Wilkes Land, East Antarctica, onboard R/V Aurora Australis. The sea-ice conditions were characterized by significantly thick first-year ice and snow, trapping the ship for about 10 days in the near coastal region. The deep snow cover was particularly remarkable, in that its average value of 0.45 m was almost three times that observed between 1992 and 2007 in the region. To reveal factors responsible, we used in situ observations and ERA-Interim reanalysis (19902012) to examine the relative contribution of the different components of the local-regional snow mass balance equation i.e., snow accumulation on sea ice, precipitation minus evaporation (PE), and loss by (i) snow-ice formation and (ii) entering into leads due to drifting snow. Results show no evidence for significantly high PE in the winter of 2012. Ice core analysis has shown that although the snow-ice layer was relatively thin, indicating less transformation from snow to snow-ice in 2012 as compared to measurements from 2007, the difference was not enough to explain the extraordinarily deep snow. Based on these results, we deduce that lower loss of snow into leads was probably responsible for the extraordinary snow in 2012. Statistical analysis and satellite images suggest that the reduction in loss of snow into leads is attributed to rough ice surface associated with active deformation processes and larger floe size due to sea-ice expansion. This highlights the importance of snow-sea ice interaction in determining the mean snow depth on Antarctic sea ice.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Antarctic snow on sea ice, snow accumulation around the Antarctic, snow-ice formation, loss of snow into leads, ERA-Interim
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Glaciology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Massom, R (Dr Robert Massom)
UTAS Author:Heil, P (Dr Petra Heil)
UTAS Author:Tamura, T (Dr Takeshi Tamura)
UTAS Author:Fraser, AD (Dr Alex Fraser)
ID Code:108007
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2016-04-04
Last Modified:2017-10-30

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