The ice cap covering Antarctica does in general not terminate at the edge of the continent. In most regions the ice is pushed into the sea, taking the appearance of a floating ice shelf. At the edges of the shelves, huge parts break off and drift away as tabular icebergs, characteristic for the Antarctic. As a result, the edge of an ice shelf usually has the form of a straight, vertical wall. Although the major part of this ice wall is submerged, it rises some tens of meters out of the sea — hence the common name ‘barrier’. Under typical conditions the submerged part of the ice wall measures roughly 200 m, while the sub-ice sea depths range from a few tens to a few hundreds of meters. Because the ice wall does not reach to the sea bottom, the shelf edge forms (in oceanographic sense) a highly remarkable type of ‘coast’. The present paper addresses the oceanic circulation near the shelf-ice edge, and concentrates on two aspects, namely the large-scale flow driven by wind stresses in the open sea, and the smaller-scale circulation driven by melting of the ice wall.
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- On the Oceanic Circulation Near a Shelf-Ice Edge
G. J. F. van Heijst
- Springer Netherlands