Skip to main content Accessibility help

Response of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, to ocean gravity-wave forcing

  • Peter D. Bromirski (a1) and Ralph A. Stephen (a2)


Comparison of the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS, Antarctica) response at near-front seismic station RIS2 with seismometer data collected on tabular iceberg B15A and with land-based seismic stations at Scott Base on Ross Island (SBA) and near Lake Vanda in the Dry Valleys (VNDA) allows identification of RIS-specific signals resulting from gravity-wave forcing that includes meteorologically driven wind waves and swell, infragravity (IG) waves and tsunami waves. The vibration response of the RIS varies with season and with the frequency and amplitude of the gravity-wave forcing. The response of the RIS to IG wave and swell impacts is much greater than that observed at SBA and VNDA. A spectral peak at near-ice-front seismic station RIS2 centered near 0.5 Hz, which persists during April when swell is damped by sea ice, may be a dominant resonance or eigenfrequency of the RIS. High-amplitude swell events excite relatively broadband signals that are likely fracture events (icequakes). Changes in coherence between the vertical and horizontal sensors in the 8–12 Hz band from February to April, combined with the appearance of a spectral peak near 10 Hz in April when sea ice damps swell, suggest that lower (higher) temperatures during austral winter (summer) months affect signal propagation characteristics and hence mechanical properties of the RIS.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Response of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, to ocean gravity-wave forcing
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Response of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, to ocean gravity-wave forcing
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Response of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, to ocean gravity-wave forcing
      Available formats



Hide All
Bassis, JN and 7 others (2007) Seismicity and deformation associated with ice-shelf rift propagation. J. Glaciol., 53 (183), 523–536 (doi: 10.3189/002214307784409207)
Birch, F (1961) The velocity of compressional waves in rocks to 10 kilobars, part 2. J. Geophys. Res., 66(7), 2199–2224 (doi: 10.1029/JZ066i007p02199)
Bromirski, PD and Duennebier, FK (2002) The near-coastal microseism spectrum: spatial and temporal wave climate relationships. J. Geophys. Res., 107(B8), 2166 (doi: 10.1029/2001JB000265)
Bromirski, PD and Gerstoft, P (2009) Dominant source regions of the Earth’s ‘hum’ are coastal. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36(13), L13303 (doi: 10.1029/2009GL038903)
Bromirski, PD and Kossin, JP (2008) Increasing hurricane wave power along the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts. J. Geophys. Res., 113(C7), C07012 (doi: 10.1029/2007JC004706)
Bromirski, PD, Flick, RE and Graham, N (1999) Ocean wave height determined from inland seismometer data: implications for investigating wave climate changes in the NE Pacific. J. Geophys. Res., 104(C9), 20 753–20 766 (doi: 10.1029/1999JC900156)
Bromirski, PD, Cayan, DR and Flick, RE, (2005a) Wave spectral energy variability in the northeast Pacific. J. Geophys. Res., 110(C3), C03005 (doi: 10.1029/2004JC002398)
Bromirski, PD, Duennebier, FK and Stephen, RA, (2005b) Mid-ocean microseisms. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 6(Q4), Q04009 (doi: 10.1029/2004GC000768)
Bromirski, PD, Stephen, R and Duennebier, FK (2006) Effects of local structure on seafloor ambient noise at the Hawaii-2 Observatory. Eos, 87, Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstr. S53B-1344
Bromirski, PD, Sergienko, OV and MacAyeal, DR (2010) Transoceanic infragravity waves impacting Antarctic ice shelves. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37(2), L02502 (doi: 10.1029/2009GL041488)
Brunt, KM, Okal, EA and MacAyeal, DR (2011) Antarctic ice-shelf calving triggered by the Honshu (Japan) earthquake and tsunami, March 2011. J. Glaciol., 57(205), 785–788 (doi: 10.3189/002214311798043681)
Cathles, LM, Okal, EA and MacAyeal, DR (2009) Seismic observations of sea swell on the floating Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 114(F2), F02015 (doi: 10.1029/2007JF000934)
Curran, MAJ, Van Ommen, TD, Morgan, VI, Phillips, KL and Palmer, AS (2003) Ice core evidence for Antarctic sea ice decline since the 1950s. Science, 302(5648), 1203–1206 (doi: 10.1126/science.1087888)
De la Mare, WK (1997) Abrupt mid-twentieth century decline in Antarctic sea-ice extent from whaling records. Nature, 389(6646), 57–60 (doi: 10.1038/37956)
Freed-Brown, J, Amundson, JM, MacAyeal, DR and Zhang, WW (2012) Trapping a wave: modeling the vibration spectrum of a crevasse-ridden ice-shelf. Ann. Glaciol., 53(60), 85–89 (doi: 10.3189/2012AoG60A120)
Gerstoft, P, Sabra, KG, Roux, P, Kuperman, WA and Fehler, MC (2006) Green’s functions extraction and surface-wave tomography from microseisms in southern California. Geophysics, 71(4), SI23–SI31 (doi: 10.1190/1.2210607)
Godin, OA and Chapman, DMF (1999) Shear-speed gradients and ocean seismo-acoustic noise resonances. J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 106(5), 2367–2382
Goodman, DJ, Wadhams, P and Squire, VA (1980) The flexural response of a tabular ice island to ocean swell. Ann. Glaciol., 1, 23–27
Herbers, THC, Elgar, S and Guza, RT (1995) Generation and propagation of infragravity waves. J. Geophys. Res., 100(C12), 24 863–24 872 (doi: 10.1029/95JC02680)
Holdsworth, G and Glynn, JE (1978) Iceberg calving from floating glaciers by a vibrating mechanism. Nature, 274(5670), 464–466 (doi: 10.1038/274464a0)
Kirchner, JF and Bentley, CR (1979) Seismic short-refraction studies on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. J. Glaciol., 24(90), 313–319
MacAyeal, DR and 13 others (2006) Transoceanic wave propagation links iceberg calving margins of Antarctica with storms in tropics and Northern Hemisphere. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33(17), L17502 (doi: 10.1029/2006GL027235)
MacAyeal, DR, Okal, EA, Aster, RC and Bassis, JN, (2008a) Seismic and hydroacoustic tremor generated by colliding icebergs. J. Geophys. Res., 113(F3), F03011 (doi: 10.1029/2008JF001005)
MacAyeal, DR, Okal, MH, Thom, JE, Brunt, KM, Kim, Y-J and Bliss, AK (2008b) Tabular iceberg collisions within the coastal regime. J. Glaciol., 54(185), 371–386 (doi: 10.3189/002214308784886180)
MacAyeal, DR, Okal, EA, Aster, RC and Bassis, JN (2009) Seismic observations of glaciogenic ocean waves (micro-tsunamis) on icebergs and ice shelves. J. Glaciol., 55(190), 193–206 (doi: 10.3189/002214309788608679)
Martin, S and 6 others (2010) Kinematic and seismic analysis of giant tabular iceberg breakup at Cape Adare, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 115(B6), B06311 (doi: 10.1029/2009JB006700)
Okal, EA and MacAyeal, DR (2006) Seismic recording on drifting icebergs: catching seismic waves, tsunamis and storms from Sumatra and elsewhere. Seismol. Res. Lett., 77(6), 659–671 (doi: 10.1785/gssrl.77.6.659)
Peters, ME, Blankenship, DD, Smith, DE, Holt, JW and Kempf, SD (2007) The distribution and classification of bottom crevasses from radar sounding of a large tabular iceberg. IEEE Geosci. Remote Sens. Lett., 4(1), 142–146
Rignot, E, Casassa, G, Gogineni, P, Krabill, W, Rivera, A and Thomas, R (2004) Accelerated ice discharge from the Antarctic Peninsula following the collapse of Larsen B ice shelf. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31(18), L18401 (doi: 10.1029/2004GL020697)
Scambos, TA, Hulbe, C, Fahnestock, M and Bohlander, J (2000) The link between climate warming and break-up of ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula. J. Glaciol., 46(154), 516–530 (doi: 10.3189/172756500781833043)
Scambos, TA, Bohlander, JA, Shuman, CA and Skvarca, P (2004) Glacier acceleration and thinning after ice shelf collapse in the Larsen B embayment, Antarctica. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31(18), L18402 (doi: 10.1029/2004GL020670)
Scambos, T, Sergienko, OV, Sargent, A, MacAyeal, DR and Fastook, J (2005) ICESat profiles of tabular iceberg margins and iceberg breakup at low latitudes. Geophys. Res. Lett., 32(23), L23509 (doi: 10.1029/2005GLO23802)
Scambos, T and 7 others (2009) Ice shelf disintegration by plate bending and hydro-fracture: satellite observations and model results of the 2008 Wilkins ice shelf break-ups. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 280(1–4), 51–60 (doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2008.12.027)
Sergienko, OV (2010) Elastic response of floating glacier ice to impact of long-period ocean waves. J. Geophys. Res., 115(F4), F04028 (doi: 10.1029/2010JF001721)
Sergienko, OV, MacAyeal, DR and Thom, JE (2008) Reconstruction of snow/firn thermal diffusivities from observed temperature variation: application to iceberg C16, Ross Sea, Antarctica, 2004–07. Ann. Glaciol., 49, 91–95 (doi: 10.3189/172756408787814906)
Snodgrass, FE, Groves, GW, Hasselmann, KF, Miller, GR, Munk, WH and Powers, WH (1966) Propagation of ocean swell across the Pacific. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London, Ser. A, 259(1103), 431–497 (doi: 10.1098/rsta.1966.0022)
Stephen, RA (1988) A review of finite difference methods for seismo-acoustics problems at the seafloor. Rev. Geophys., 26(3), 445–458 (doi: 10.1029/RG026i003p00445)
Stephen, RA (1990) Solutions to range-dependent benchmark problems by the finite-difference method. J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 87(4), 1527–1534
Stephen, RA and Swift, SA, (1994a) Modeling seafloor geoacoustic interaction with a numerical scattering chamber. J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 96(2), 973–990
Stephen, RA and Swift, SA, (1994b) Finite difference modeling of geoacoustic interaction at anelastic seafloors. J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 95(1), 60–70
Swift, SA and Stephen, RA (1994) The scattering of a low-angle pulse beam from seafloor volume heterogeneities. J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 96(2), 991–1001
Vaughan, DG (1995) Tidal flexure at ice shelf margins. J. Geophys. Res., 100(B4), 6213–6224 (doi: 10.1029/94JB02467)
Vaughan, DG, Cook, AJ, Marshall, GJ and Pritchard, HD (2009) The retreating ice shelves of the Antarctic Peninsula. Eos, 89(53), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstr. C41D-05
Webb, SC (2008) The Earth’s hum: the excitation of Earth normal modes by ocean waves. Geophys. J. Int., 174(2), 542–566 (doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2008.03801.x)
Webb, SC, Zhang, X and Crawford, W (1991) Infragravity waves in the deep ocean. J. Geophys. Res., 96(C2), 2723–2736
Williams, RT and Robinson, ES (1979) Ocean tide and waves beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Science, 203(4379), 443–445
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed