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Effects of an Explosive Polar Cyclone Crossing the Antarctic Marginal Ice Zone
Univ Cape Town, Dept Oceanog, Cape Town, South Africa;Univ Cape Town, Marine Res Inst, Cape Town, South Africa.
New York Univ Abu Dhabi, Ctr Global Sea Level Change, Abu Dhabi, U Arab Emirates.
Univ Adelaide, Sch Math Sci, Adelaide, SA, Australia;Univ Melbourne, Dept Infrastruct Engn, Parkville, Vic, Australia.
Stellenbosch Univ, Sound & Vibrat Res Grp, Dept Mech & Mechatron Engn, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
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2019 (English)In: Geophysical Research Letters, ISSN 0094-8276, E-ISSN 1944-8007, Vol. 46, no 11, p. 5948-5958Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Antarctic sea ice shows a large degree of regional variability, which is partly driven by severe weather events. Here we bring a new perspective on synoptic sea ice changes by presenting the first in situ observations of an explosive extratropical cyclone crossing the winter Antarctic marginal ice zone (MIZ) in the South Atlantic. This is complemented by the analysis of subsequent cyclones and highlights the rapid variations that ice-landing cyclones cause on sea ice: Midlatitude warm oceanic air is advected onto the ice, and storm waves generated close to the ice edge contribute to the maintenance of an unconsolidated surface through which waves propagate far into the ice. MIZ features may thus extend further poleward in the Southern Ocean than currently estimated. A concentration-based MIZ definition is inadequate, since it fails to describe a sea ice configuration which is deeply rearranged by synoptic weather. Plain Language Summary The extent of Antarctic sea ice is characterized by large regional variations that are in stark contrast with the alarming decreasing trends found in the Arctic. This is partly due to the presence of severe weather events, like extratropical cyclones travelling through the Southern Ocean and reaching the marginal ice zone (MIZ). The MIZ is a region where the ocean, atmosphere, and sea ice processes are closely interlinked. We provide direct evidence of how winter polar cyclones rearrange the MIZ and how their effects extend into the ice-covered region as far as the Antarctic continent. We present the first observations of large ice drift, ice concentration, and temperature changes as an explosively deepening cyclone crosses the MIZ. This case study is complemented by analysis of subsequent but more frequent storms that confirms how storminess in the Southern Ocean maintains a sea ice surface that is less compact, more mobile, and more extended than previously anticipated. Our results urge the scientific community to revise the current definition of the MIZ and improve its representation in models to better include the role of polar cyclones in detecting Antarctic sea ice trends.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION , 2019. Vol. 46, no 11, p. 5948-5958
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology and Water Resources
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-392884DOI: 10.1029/2019GL082457ISI: 000477616200035OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-392884DiVA, id: diva2:1354137
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 201603724The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT), SA2017-7063Available from: 2019-09-24 Created: 2019-09-24 Last updated: 2019-09-24Bibliographically approved

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