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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)