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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-213
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-213
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 30 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 30 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Frazil ice growth and production during katabatic wind events in the Ross Sea, Antarctica

Lisa De Pace1, Madison Smith2, Jim Thomson2, Sharon Stammerjohn3, Steve Ackley4, and Brice Loose5 Lisa De Pace et al.
  • 1Department of Science, US Coast Guard Academy, New London CT
  • 2Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle WA
  • 3Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder CO
  • 4University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio TX
  • 5Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett RI

Abstract. During katabatic wind events in the Terra Nova Bay and Ross Sea polynyas, wind speeds exceeded 20 m s−1, air temperatures were below −25 ℃, and the mixed layer extended as deep as 600 meters. Yet, upper ocean temperature and salinity profiles were not perfectly homogeneous, as would be expected with vigorous convective heat loss. Instead, the profiles revealed bulges of warm and salty water directly beneath the ocean surface and extending downwards tens of meters. Considering both the colder air above and colder water below, we suggest the increase in temperature and salinity reflects latent heat and salt release during unconsolidated frazil ice production within the upper water column. We use a simplified salt budget to analyze these anomalies to estimate in-situ frazil ice concentration between 332 × 10−3 and 24.4 × 10−3 kg m−3. Contemporaneous estimates of vertical mixing by turbulent kinetic energy dissipation reveal rapid convection in these unstable density profiles, and mixing lifetimes from 2 to 12 minutes. The corresponding median rate of ice production is 26 cm day−1 and compares well with previous empirical and model estimates. Our individual estimates of ice production up to 378 cm day−1 reveal the intensity of short-term ice production events during the windiest episodes of our occupation of Terra Nova Bay Polynya.

Lisa De Pace et al.
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Raw Hydrographic Data from the Southern Ocean acquired during R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer expedition NBP1704 (2017) S. Ackley https://doi.org/10.1594/IEDA/324286

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Short summary
The winds around Antarctica reach hurricane strength and produce intense cooling; yet, we found warm, salty water in the upper ocean. Considering the cold surroundings, we conclude that seawater ice crystal formation took place at up to 4 m/day. If not for intense mixing the ocean surface would be covered by this much ice. While, the phenomenon can be demonstrated in a lab, this is the first example of heat and salt buildup during ice formation in the ocean.
The winds around Antarctica reach hurricane strength and produce intense cooling; yet, we found...
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