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Ice platelets below Weddell Sea landfast sea ice

  • Mario Hoppmann (a1), Marcel Nicolaus (a1), Stephan Paul (a2), Priska A. Hunkeler (a1), Günther Heinemann (a2), Sascha Willmes (a2), Ralph Timmermann (a1), Olaf Boebel (a1), Thomas Schmidt (a1), Meike Kühnel (a1), Gert König-Langlo (a1) and Rüdiger Gerdes (a1)...

Basal melt of ice shelves may lead to an accumulation of disc-shaped ice platelets underneath nearby sea ice, to form a sub-ice platelet layer. Here we present the seasonal cycle of sea ice attached to the Ekström Ice Shelf, Antarctica, and the underlying platelet layer in 2012. Ice platelets emerged from the cavity and interacted with the fast-ice cover of Atka Bay as early as June. Episodic accumulations throughout winter and spring led to an average platelet-layer thickness of 4 m by December 2012, with local maxima of up to 10 m. The additional buoyancy partly prevented surface flooding and snow-ice formation, despite a thick snow cover. Subsequent thinning of the platelet layer from December onwards was associated with an inflow of warm surface water. The combination of model studies with observed fast-ice thickness revealed an average ice-volume fraction in the platelet layer of 0.25 ± 0.1. We found that nearly half of the combined solid sea-ice and ice-platelet volume in this area is generated by heat transfer to the ocean rather than to the atmosphere. The total ice-platelet volume underlying Atka Bay fast ice was equivalent to more than one-fifth of the annual basal melt volume under the Ekström Ice Shelf.

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