Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Antarctic research featured in American Geophysical Union (AGU) Research Spotlight

Tuesday 14 April 2015 11:51am

The title of the featured paper is "Extension of an Ice Shelf Water plume model beneath sea ice with application in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica".  The lead author is Ken Hughes, who recently completed a Masters Degree at the University of Otago and is now studying towards a Ph.D. at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.  The co-authors are Associate Professor Pat Langhorne from the University of Otago's Physics Department, Dr. Greg Leonard from the School of Surveying and Associate Professor Craig Stevens from NIWA / University of Auckland Department of Physics.

The paper describes the modifications made to a 1D, steady-state frazil ice plume model that was designed for ice shelf cavities so that it may be extended beneath the sea ice cover immediately adjacent to the front of an ice shelf.  The model is then assessed by applying it to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica where its output is compared with ice and ocean data collected in November 2011.  An important conclusion from the paper is that an Ice Shelf Water plume, initiated by some degree of melting at the base of the Ross Ice Shelf, contributes approximately one tenth of a metre of sea ice growth in McMurdo Sound, which accounts for 5% of the average yearly growth rate.  This in turn may go some way towards explaining why sea ice extent in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica has been increasing in recent years at the same time that temperatures in the waters surrounding Antarctica have also been increasing. 

Here is the link to the AGU Research Spotlight.

Here is a link to the abstract of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans paper.