Strategy for Under Ice Observations
Interactions between the Southern Ocean, atmosphere and cryosphere influence climate, biogeochemical cycles and biological productivity on global scales. However, many key high latitude processes remain poorly understood because of a lack of observations. The ocean beneath Antarctic sea ice and ice shelves is likely the least well observed physical system on the planet. This 19x106km2 blind spot in the global ocean observing system is a major impediment to better understanding of climate, biogeochemical cycles and sea level rise.
Many of the key scientific questions concerning the role of high latitude ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions in the climate system remain unanswered because of a paucity of observations. New technologies now allow such measurements to be made. The goal of this initiative is to develop a strategy for sustained observations of the Antarctic sea-ice zone. The strategy will include observations needed for the study of interactions between the atmosphere, ocean and both sea ice and glacial ice, including the sub-ice-shelf cavity and deep troughs through which warm ocean waters access the shelf region. While the focus is on the Antarctic, experts from the Arctic community will be involved so we can benefit from experience gained there, where efforts to measure the ocean beneath the sea ice are more advanced.
A 4-day workshop was held in 2012, sponsored by the Wealth For Oceans Flagship (CSIRO, Australia) and SOOS, with the objective of bringing together world experts to discuss and develop the strategy.
Esmee van Wijk (Esmee.Vanwijk AT csiro.au)