Antarctic Sea Ice

The future of Antarctic sea ice

Sea ice influences climate through its contribution to the freshwater balance, water mass formation, albedo, and modulation of air-sea exchange of heat and gases, including CO2. Sea ice also provides important habitat for Antarctic organisms including algae, krill, penguins and seals, and influences productivity in the ocean by supplying iron and meltwater, which influences mixed layer depth and the light environment. While there has been little change in the total extent of Antarctic sea ice in recent decades, there have been strong regional trends in ice extent and duration, and models predict a decline in sea-ice extent and volume in the future. A sustained observing system for Antarctic sea ice will rely heavily on remote sensing from satellites and aircraft, but these methods are critically dependent on in situ observations for validation and algorithm development.

Priority Observations

At the 2013 Scientific Steering Committee meeting in Shanghai, China, the SOOS Steering Committee identified the top gaps in observations for each of the 6 SOOS Science Themes that should be identified as "priority observations" for the coming years. SOOS encourages the community to develop field initiatives to address these key gaps and to highlight their contribution to the international SOOS effort through SOOS endorsement or other connections.

 

Theme 5 Priority Observations:

  • Sea-ice thickness from ships and coastal stations
  • Sea-ice drift (meteorology, buoy arrays etc)
  • Sea-ice extent and concentration observations

Observation Platforms

Ship-based observations, drifter buoy arrays, moorings, remote sensing, Ice stations

Key Communities

Strategic:

  1. Antarctic Sea-Ice Processes and Climate (ASPeCt)
  2. Antarctic Fast Ice Network (AFIN)
  3. International Programme of Antarctic Buoys (IPAB)

 

Observational:

  1. ASPeCt
  2. Polynas, Ice Production, and Seasonal Evolution in the Ross Sea (PIPERS)

Key Documents

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