Project Information
Sea Ice Mass Balance in the Antarctic-SIMBA Drift Station
Start Date:
End Date:
This project is a study of the evolution of the sea ice cover, and the mass balance of ice in the Amundsen Sea and the Bellingshausen Sea in the internationally collaborative context of the International Polar Year (2007-2008). In its simplest terms, the mass balance is the net freezing and melting that occurs over an annual cycle at a given location. If the ice were stationary and were completely to melt every year, the mass balance would be zero. While non-zero balances have significance in questions of climate and environmental change, the process itself has global consequences since the seasonal freeze-melt cycle has the effect of distilling the surface water. Oceanic salt is concentrated into brine and rejected from the ice into deeper layers in the freezing process, while during melt, the newly released and relatively fresh water stabilizes the surface layers. The observation program will be carried out during a drift program of the Nathaniel B. Palmer, and through a buoy network established on the sea ice that will make year-long measurements of ice thickness, and temperature profile, large-scale deformation, and other characteristics. The project is a component of the Antarctic Sea Ice Program, endorsed internationally by the Joint Committee for IPY. Additionally, the buoys to be deployed have been endorsed as an IPY contribution to the World Climate Research Program/Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (WCRP/SCAR) International Programme on Antarctic Buoys (IPAB). While prior survey information has been obtained in this region, seasonal and time-series measurements on sea ice mass balance are crucial data in interpreting the mechanisms of air-ice-ocean interaction.
The network will consist of an array of twelve buoys capable of GPS positioning. Three buoys will be equipped with thermister strings and ice and snow thickness measurement gauges, as well as a barometer. Two buoys will be equipped with meteorological sensors including wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure, and incoming radiation. Seven additional buoys will have GPS positioning only, and will be deployed approximately 100 km from the central site. These outer buoys will be critical in capturing high frequency motion complementary to satellite-derived ice motion products. Additional buoys have been committed internationally through IPAB and will be deployed in the region as part of this program.
This project will complement similar projects to be carried out in the Weddell Sea by the German Antarctic Program, and around East Antarctica by the Australian Antarctic Program. The combined buoy and satellite deformation measurements, together with the mass balance measurements, will provide a comprehensive annual data set on sea ice thermodynamics and dynamics for comparison with both coupled and high-resolution sea ice models.
Person Role
Ackley, Stephen Investigator
Antarctic Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Award # 0538516
Deployment Type
NBP0709 ship expedition
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
Not provided
Repository Title (link) Format(s) Status
R2R Expedition data of NBP0709 None exists

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