Antarctic Sea-ice Processes and Climate (ASPeCt) Expert Group


The overall aim of ASPeCt is to understand and model the role of Antarctic sea ice in the coupled atmosphere-ice-ocean system.  This requires an understanding of key processes, and the determination of physical, chemical, and biological properties of the sea ice zone.  These are addressed by objectives which are:

  1. To establish the distribution of the basic physical properties of sea ice that are important to air-sea interaction and to biological processes within the Antarctic sea-ice zone (ice and snow cover thickness distributions; structural, chemical and thermal properties of the snow and ice; upper ocean hydrography; floe size and lead distribution).  These data are required to derive forcing and validation fields for climate models and to determine factors controlling the biology and ecology of the sea ice-associated biota.

  2. To understand the key sea-ice zone processes necessary for improved parameterisation of these processes in coupled models.

The key scientific questions which must be answered to meet the objectives of the ASPeCt Programme are:

  • What are the broad-scale time-varying distributions of the ice and snow-cover thickness, ice composition and other physical characteristics in the Antarctic sea ice zone?
  • What are the dominant processes of ice formation, modification, decay and transport which influence and determine ice-thickness, composition and distribution?
  • What is the role of coastal polynyas in determining total ice production, heat, salt and biogeochemical fluxes, and water mass modification?
  • What are the processes that control the ice-water interactions at the ice-edge, and their seasonal changes?

For more details, visit the ASPeCt website.