Marine Science Faculty Publications


Local Climatology of Fast Ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

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coastal food webs, ice–ocean interactions, long-term trends, Ross Sea, sea ice, Southern Ocean

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Fast ice plays important physical and ecological roles: as a barrier to wind, waves and radiation, as both barrier and safe resting place for air-breathing animals, and as substrate for microbial communities. While sea ice has been monitored for decades using satellite imagery, high-resolution imagery sufficient to distinguish fast ice from mobile pack ice extends only back to c. 2000. Fast ice trends may differ from previously identified changes in regional sea ice distributions. To investigate effects of climate and human activities on fast ice dynamics in McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea, the sea and fast ice seasonal events (1978–2015), ice thicknesses and temperatures (1986–2014), wind velocities (1973–2015) and dates that an icebreaker annually opens a channel to McMurdo Station (1956–2015) are reported. A significant relationship exists between sea ice concentration and fast ice extent in the Sound. While fast/sea ice retreat dates have not changed, fast/sea ice reaches a minimum later and begins to advance earlier, in partial agreement with changes in Ross Sea regional pack ice dynamics. Fast ice minimum extent within McMurdo Sound is significantly correlated with icebreaker arrival date as well as wind velocity. The potential impacts of changes in fast ice climatology on the local marine ecosystem are discussed.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Antarctic Science, v. 30, issue 2, p. 125-142