Measurements beneath an Antarctic ice shelf using an autonomous underwater vehicle

Nicholls, K. W.; Abrahamsen, E. P.; Buck, J. J. H.; Dodd, P. A.; Goldblatt, C.; Griffiths, G.; Heywood, K. J.; Hughes, N. E.; Kaletzky, A.; Lane-Serff, G. F.; McPhail, S. D.; Millard, N. W.; Oliver, K. I. C.; Perrett, J.; Price, M. R.; Pudsey, C. J.; Saw, K.; Stansfield, K.; Stott, M. J.; Wadhams, P.; Webb, A. T. and Wilkinson, J. P. (2006). Measurements beneath an Antarctic ice shelf using an autonomous underwater vehicle. Geophysical Research Letters, 33(8)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2006GL025998

Abstract

The cavities beneath Antarctic ice shelves are among the least studied regions of the World Ocean, yet they are sites of globally important water mass transformations. Here we report results from a mission beneath Fimbul Ice Shelf of an autonomous underwater vehicle. The data reveal a spatially complex oceanographic environment, an ice base with widely varying roughness, and a cavity periodically exposed to water with a temperature significantly above the surface freezing point. The results of this, the briefest of glimpses of conditions in this extraordinary environment, are already reforming our view of the topographic and oceanographic conditions beneath ice shelves, holding out great promises for future missions from similar platforms.

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