Journal or chapter

Platelet ice, the Southern Ocean’s hidden ice: a review

Basal melt of ice shelves is not only an important part of Antarctica’s ice sheet mass budget, but it is also the origin of platelet ice, one of the most distinctive types of sea ice. In many coastal Antarctic regions, ice crystals form and grow in supercooled plumes of Ice Shelf Water. They usually rise towards the surface, becoming trapped under an ice shelf as marine ice or forming a semi-consolidated layer, known as the sub-ice platelet layer, below an overlying sea ice cover. In the latter, sea ice growth consolidates loose crystals to form incorporated platelet ice. These phenomena have numerous and profound impacts on the physical properties, biological processes and biogeochemical cycles associated with Antarctic fast ice: platelet ice contributes to sea ice mass balance and may indicate the extent of ice-shelf basal melting. It can also host a highly productive and uniquely adapted ecosystem. This paper clarifies the terminology and reviews platelet ice formation, observational methods as well as the geographical and seasonal occurrence of this ice type. The physical properties and ecological implications are presented in a way understandable for physicists and biologists alike, thereby providing the background for much needed interdisciplinary research on this topic.


Antarctic sea ice