University Of Tasmania
154019 - Sea ice-free corridors for large swell to reach Antarctic ice shelves.pdf (1.45 MB)

Sea ice-free corridors for large swell to reach Antarctic ice shelves

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 14:34 authored by Teder, NJ, Bennetts, LG, Phillip ReidPhillip Reid, Robert MassomRobert Massom
Sea ice can attenuate Southern Ocean swell before it reaches Antarctic ice shelves and imposes flexural stresses, which promote calving of outer ice-shelf margins and influence ice shelf stability. An algorithm is developed to identify sea ice-free corridors that connect the open Southern Ocean to Antarctic ice shelves from daily satellite sea ice concentration data between September 1979 and August 2019. Large swell in the corridors available to impact the ice shelves is extracted from spectral wave model hindcast data. For a selection of ice shelves around the Antarctic coastline, corridors are assessed in terms of duration and areal extent. The availability of large swell to impact certain ice shelves through the corridors is evaluated from spectral wave data for daily statistical properties and the number of large swell days per year. Results integrated over a large number of ice shelves are used to assess overall trends. Large variations are found between individual ice shelves for both corridors and available swell, with contrasting trends between the West and East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The findings indicate ice shelves likely to experience prolonged periods of appreciable outer margin flexure due to large swell action, such as the Fimbul, Shackleton and Ross Ice Shelves, which could exacerbate climate-driven weakening and decreasing buttressing capacity, with implications for sea-level rise.


Publication title

Environmental Research Letters





Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© Commonwealth of Australia 2022. Original Content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence, ( Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Other environmental management not elsewhere classified