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Comparing methods of measuring sea-ice density in the East Antarctic Public Deposited

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  • Remotely sensed derivation of sea-ice thickness requires sea·ice density. Sea-ice density was estimated with three techniques during the second Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystem eXperiment (SIPEX-II, September-November 2012, East Antarctica). The sea ice was first-year highly deformed, mean thickness 1.2 m with layers, consistent with rafting, and 6-7/10 columnar ice and 3/10 granular ice. Ice density was found to be lower than values (900-920 kg m⁻³ used previously to derive ice thickness, with columnar ice mean density of 870 kg m⁻³. At two different ice stations the mean density of the ice was 870 and 800 kg m⁻³, the lower density reflecting a high percentage of porous granular ice at the second station. Error estimates for mass/volume and liquid/solid water methods are presented. With 0.1 m long, 0.1 m core samples, the error on individual density estimates is 28 kg m⁻³. Errors are larger for smaller machined blocks. Errors increase to 46 kg m⁻³ if the liquid/solid volume method is used. The mass/volume method has a low bias due to brine drainage of at least 5%. Bulk densities estimated from ice and snow measurements along 100 m transects were high, and likely unrealistic as the assumption of isostatic balance is not suitable over these length scales in deformed ice.
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  • Hutchings, J. K., Heil, P., Lecomte, O., Stevens, R., Steer, A., & Lieser, J. L. (2015). Comparing methods of measuring sea-ice density in the East Antarctic. Annals of Glaciology, 56(69), 77-82. doi:10.3189/2015AoG69A814
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  • This research was supported by Australian Antarctic Science grants No. 4072 and No. 4073, and US National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs grant 1023662. The International Space Science Institute, Bern, Switzerland, is thanked for supporting scientific collaborations of this study through grant No. 245.
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