University Of Tasmania

File(s) not publicly available

Seasonal and interannual variations of the oceanic heat flux under a landfast Antarctic sea ice cover

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 10:05 authored by Petra HeilPetra Heil, Ian AllisonIan Allison, Lytle, VI
A multilayer thermodynamic model is used to simulate sea ice growth for 12 years between 1958 and 1986 in the vicinity of the Australian station Mawson on the coast of East Antarctica. The atmospheric forcing data for the model are derived from radiosonde profiles and from surface measurements. Global radiation data are available for 4 years, and we use these measurements for comparison with the results of a Zillman-type model for global radiation. Combining the thermodynamic model with sea ice thickness measurements for 12 years, we solve the energy balance equation for the oceanic heat flux. The oceanic heat flux is not constant but changes with time within the year and from year to year. The oceanic heat flux averages 7.9 W/m2, and the yearly means vary between 5 and 12 W/m2. Seasonal values of the oceanic heat flux range from 0 to 18 W/ m2. From the yearly averaged values a decadal trend is evident: During the first years that were analyzed the yearly average lies well above 10 W/m2; then in the mid-1970s a decrease to 9 W/m2 occurs, while for all later years the values are ∼6-8 W/m2. In general, the oceanic heat flux increases from the start of the fast ice formation season in early April until it breaks out in December or January. To compare the calculated oceanic heat fluxes for different years, we divide the total ice season into three characteristic time regimes of the sea ice growth and calculate the averaged oceanic heat fluxes for each regime. For the first regime (through August) the mean flux is 2.7 W/m2, for the middle regime (September) it is 8.4 W/m2, and for the final regime (October-January) it is 17 W/m2. We discuss the results of our model calculations in conjunction with current meter observations, which give evidence of seasonally varying intrusions of relatively warm Circumpolar Deep Water into Prydz Bay. Comparison of passive microwave data of sea ice extent and concentration (from the scanning multichannel microwave radiometer sensor) with the model results reveals a correlation between the magnitude of the oceanic heat flux and local features such as polynyas. Copyright 1996 by the American Geophysical Union.


Publication title

Journal of Geophysical Research










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Amer Geophysical Union

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding climate change not elsewhere classified

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania