Saturday, December 12, 2009

Follow the annual retreat of the sea ice

In preparation for our cruise to the Wilkes Land margin of Antarctica, we are watching the sea ice closely. Sea ice forms in the Antarctic every austral Winter (March through September) by freezing of the surface of the ocean. The sea ice melts back from October through February (the Antarctic Summer). For our cruise it is important that the sea ice melts back enough so that the ship can reach the continental shelf, which is the area of the ocean adjacent to land, where the water depths are relatively shallow. In the image you can see the the sea ice map for December 11, 2009 with the Wilkes Land margin indicated with an arrow. The movie here shows the retreat of the sea ice over the past 21 days. It is looking quite good: the sea ice has receded from the shelf area there. You can go to the following web site and keep an eye on the sea ice on a daily basis: Just scroll down the page to the Antarctic.

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