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Antarctic Research Series



  • Ecology—Research—Antarctica—Antarctic Peninsula Region

Index Terms

  • 4540 Oceanography: Physical: Ice mechanics and air/sea/ice exchange processes
  • 4207 Oceanography: General: Arctic and Antarctic oceanography
  • 4215 Oceanography: General: Climate and interannual variability
  • 4227 Oceanography: General: Diurnal, seasonal, and annual cycles



Spatial and temporal variability of western Antarctic Peninsula sea ice coverage

S. E. Stammerjohn and R. C. Smith

Spatial and temporal variability of sea ice coverage west of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) study area, is analyzed from October 1978 to August 1994, using surface sea ice concentrations derived from passive microwave satellite data. Ice coverage in the LTER region, nearby regions and the Southern Ocean are compared. Results show that various regions have distinct characteristics in seasonal and interannual variability in contrast to the Southern Ocean as a whole. For example, seasonal ice coverage in the LTER and Bellingshausen regions is distinct from other Southern Ocean regions in that the period of ice advance is relatively short in comparison to the period of ice retreat. In addition, the LTER and Bellingshausen regions are the only Southern Ocean regions which show long term persistence in monthly anomalous ice coverage, so that there is an oscillation between several consecutive high ice years followed by several consecutive low ice years. Cross spectral analysis of monthly anomalous ice coverage was performed to determine the longitudinal spatial extent of coherence among regions. There is no coherence between the eastern Antarctic Peninsula and LTER regions. There is low frequency coherence between Bellingshausen and Amundsen monthly anomalies, and the phase indicates that anomalous ice coverage in the Bellingshausen lags the Amundsen by approximately one year. Within the Bellingshausen region there is both high and low frequency coherence and a west-to-east propagation of anomalies. Comparisons of ice concentrations calculated from passive microwave and visible satellite data show that passive microwave derived ice concentrations overestimate surface ice concentrations between 0–40% (17.4%±17.8%) and 40-75% (10.8%±11.3%) but underestimate surface ice concentrations between 75-100% (9.2%±6.9%). Ecological implications, as revealed by both the low and high resolution satellite data, are discussed. This LTER sea ice record provides a basis against which life-history parameters of primary producers and populations of key species from different trophic levels can be monitored and against which oceanographic and atmospheric variability in this region can be compared and modeled.

Citation: Stammerjohn, S. E., and R. C. Smith (1996), Spatial and temporal variability of western Antarctic Peninsula sea ice coverage, in Foundations for Ecological Research West of the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarct. Res. Ser., vol. 70, edited by E. E. Hofmann, R. M. Ross, and L. B. Quetin, pp. 81–104, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/AR070p0081.

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