Journal or chapter

Sea Ice Thickness in the Western Ross Sea

Using airborne measurements, we provide a first direct glimpse of the sea ice thickness distribution in the western Ross Sea, Antarctica, where the distinguishing sea ice process is the regular occurrence of the Ross Sea, McMurdo Sound, and Terra Nova Bay polynyas. Two flights in November 2017 over a length of 800 km reveal a heavily deformed ice regime with a mean thickness of 2.0 ± 1.6 m. Supported by satellite image analysis, we identify regional variability in ice thickness based on formation history. Sea ice thickness gradients are highest within 100 and 200 km of the Terra Nova Bay and McMurdo Sound polynyas, respectively, where the mean thickness of the thickest 10% of ice is 7.6 m. Overall, about 80% of the ice is heavily deformed, concentrated in ridges with thicknesses of 3.0–11.8 m. This is evidence that sea ice is much thicker than in the central Ross Sea.


Antarctic sea ice