Documenting Antarctic sea ice floes
Funding Year: 2023
Research Areas: Oceans
Due to amplified surface warming at high latitudes, sea ice has become a bellwether for global climate change. However, current climate models struggle to produce the observed decline in sea ice coverage, especially within the marginal sea ice zone, the dynamic transition zone that separates homogenous pack ice from the open ocean. Characterized by a mosaic of loosely consolidated ice chunks called floes, this zone provides a buffer against ocean waves and storms that otherwise accelerate melting rates. Earle Wilson, assistant professor of Earth system science, and team will collaborate with Capella Space, a San Francisco-based company, to source radar imagery from their constellation of polar-orbiting satellites and train algorithms to track sea ice floes within the Antarctica sea ice pack. These data will allow the team to document how this critical transition zone fluctuates in response to powerful winter storms, thereby helping to improve existing sea ice and climate models.