Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Thickness distribution of Antarctic sea ice

Authors


Abstract

[1] Ship-based observations are used to describe regional and seasonal changes in the thickness distribution and characteristics of sea ice and snow cover thickness around Antarctica. The data set comprises 23,373 observations collected over more than 2 decades of activity and has been compiled as part of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) Antarctic Sea Ice Processes and Climate (ASPeCt) program. The results show the seasonal progression of the ice thickness distribution for six regions around the continent together with statistics on the mean thickness, surface ridging, snow cover, and local variability for each region and season. A simple ridge model is used to calculate the total ice thickness from the observations of level ice and surface topography, to provide a best estimate of the total ice mass, including the ridged component. The long-term mean and standard deviation of total sea ice thickness (including ridges) is reported as 0.87 ± 0.91 m, which is 40% greater than the mean level ice thickness of 0.62 m. Analysis of the structure function along north/south and east/west transects revealed lag distances over which sea ice thickness decorrelates to be of the order of 100–300 km, which we use as a basis for presenting near-continuous maps of sea ice and snow cover thickness plotted on a 2.5° × 5.0° grid.

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