University Of Tasmania

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Platelet ice attachment to instrument strings beneath the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica

Oceanographic instruments suspended beneath the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica, have recorded sporadic pressure decreases of 10–20 dbar over a few days at three sites where basal marine ice growth is expected. We attribute these events to flotation due to platelet ice accretion on the instrument moorings. Some events were transient, rapidly returning to pre-event pressures, probably through dislodgement of loosely attached crystals. Driven by these pressure changes, temperatures recorded by the shallowest instruments (within 20 m of the shelf base) tracked in situ freezing temperatures during the events. These observations provide indirect evidence for the presence of frazil ice in the sub-ice-shelf mixed layer and for active marine ice accretion. At one site we infer that a dense layer of platelet ice ∼1.5 m thick was accreted to the ice shelf over a 50 day period. Following some permanent abrupt pressure decreases (which we interpret as due to the lodgement of the uppermost instrument at the ice-shelf base), altered background trends in pressure suggest compaction rates of 3–4 m a–1 for the accreted basal platelet layer. Attachment of platelet ice and resulting displacement of moorings has ramifications for project design and instrument deployment, and implications for interpretation of oceanographic data from sub-ice-shelf environments.


Publication title

Journal of Glaciology










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Int Glaciol Soc

Place of publication

Lensfield Rd, Cambridge, England, Cb2 1Er

Rights statement

Copyright 2014 International Glaciological Society

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Antarctic and Southern Ocean oceanic processes

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