The drift and variability of sea ice in the Amundsen Sea are investigated with ice buoys deployed in March, 2000, and a coupled ice-ocean model. The BRIOS model results are compared with in situ ocean, atmosphere and sea ice measurements, satellite sea ice observations, and 8-19 months of buoy drift data. We identify a zone of coastal westward drift and a band of faster eastward drift, separated by a broad transition region characterized by variable ice motions. The model represents drift events at scales approaching its resolution well, but is limited at smaller scales and by deficiencies in the NCEP forcing. Two-thirds of the modelled sea ice production in the southern Amundsen moves westward near the coast, its transport modulated by meridional wind strength, damping sea ice formation in the eastern Ross Sea. One half of the ice exported from the Ross moves eastward into the northern Amundsen Sea, a net sea ice sink that also receives more than one third of the ice generated to its south. A low rate of exchange occurs with the Bellingshausen Sea, which must have a more independent ice regime. Snow ice formation resulting from high precipitation accounts for one quarter of the ice volume in the Amundsen Sea aiding the formation of a thick ice cover in a region with generally divergent ice drift. Freshwater extraction by sea ice formation is roughly balanced by precipitation and ice shelf melting, but a positive trend in the surface flux is consistent with an Amundsen source for a reported freshening in the Ross Sea.
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL1-Processes and interactions in the polar climate system