Coastal polynyas can be regions of intense ocean-atmosphere heat transfer. In these polynyas, relatively warm ocean is exposed to cold, dry continental air, resulting in high sea-ice production rates. We have calculated ocean-atmosphere heat fluxes over an area of the Mertz Glacier polynya, East Antarctica, from atmospheric data collected in August 1999. Air-temperature and humidity data were measured using a probe extending from a helicopter undercarriage. Flights were made over the most vigorously ice-producing part of the polynya, within 20 km of the coast in southeast Buchanan Bay, both in very strong katabatic winds (20 m s–1) and during calmer conditions (5 m s–1). The total turbulent heat loss from the surface was nearly 575 W m–2 for the windy case and 250 W m–2 for the calmer one, with a ratio of sensible to latent heat in both cases of slightly more than four. These fluxes are in general agreement with other estimates of heat loss from Antarctic polynyas. Strong katabatic winds, sometimes exceeding 40 m s–1, were common in Buchanan Bay and the heat losses during the strong-wind cafe are probably typical of the region. We suggest that this inner part of the Mertz Glacier polynya has a very high ice-production rate.
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