Sea ice generates quite a bit of interest in climate discussions, and is supposedly a canary in the coal mine for global warming. I have followed the sea ice extent in the Arctic and Antarctic for some time on nearly a daily basis, so I was particularly pleased a few weeks ago to be able to wake up to some late Summer sea ice formations on two separate mornings in Antarctica.
February 20, 2010
Early sea ice formation in Cierva Cove — Small formations of pancake ice. Photograph taken at 10:00 a.m. Given that this was an early formation before the oncoming Fall, I expect that most, if not all, of this small pancake ice would have broken up and/or melted by the end of the day, with new formations to follow during subsequent cold nights. Notice how some of the pancakes have formed around existing brash ice (the white ice) remaining from the breakup of icebergs and glacier calvings.
February 20, 2010
By comparison, this is a photo of brash ice (broken up pieces of glacier/land ice remaining in the water) taken about two and a half hours later the same day from a position slightly closer to shore.
February 21, 2010
Early sea ice formation at Goudier Island — expanse of frazzle ice (thin film of ice that forms over sea water as it begins to freeze; frazzle ice lays out in long sheets on top of the water when the water is calm; in this case we were in a small protected bay). Photographs taken between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Again, I anticipate that most of this frazzle ice would have broken up and/or melted by the end of the day, although if subsequent nights were cold it could have remained in place, given the sheltered conditions and calm water. Notice how the remaining brash ice is surrounded and held in place by the thin frazzle ice.
This is a view down to the small bay from up on the hill. The oily looking sheen on the water is all frazzle ice, extending from the shore out to the remaining pieces of white brash ice.
Incidentally, on the other side of the pole, as of today, April 8, 2010, JAXA is showing the Arctic Sea Ice Extent as the greatest it has been at this time of year for the past 9 years. Interesting . . .