Science and Implementation Plan
The ASPeCt program aims to improve our understanding of sea ice physical processes and ocean-atmosphere interaction in the sea-ice zone. As a SCAR program, ASPeCt is focused on the unique regional environment of the Antarctica, but is closely linked to the global climate change research agenda through SCAR’s “Antarctica and the Global Climate System” (AGCS) program. The inter-disciplinary components of ASPeCt are designed to contribute to, and extend, other international climate, ocean and biology programs.
The primary objectives of ASPeCt are:
- To determine the spatial and temporal variability 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); and
- To understand the key sea-ice zone processes necessary for improved parameterisation of these processes in coupled models.
Important problems remaining to be adequately covered by Antarctic sea ice research programs include:
- The broad climatology of sea ice physical characteristics;
- Processes such as ice formation, water mass modification, the maintenance of polynyas, ice edge and coastal fronts, gas exchange, and atmosphere-ice-ocean interaction; and
- Modelling sea-ice processes in coupled atmosphere-ice-upper ocean models and linking scales from local to regional to global scales in models.
The ASPeCt program will build on existing and proposed research programs, and the shipping activities of national Antarctic operators. It will also include a component of data-rescue of valuable historical sea ice zone information. The ASPeCt program will achieve its aims by:
- Maintaining an ongoing system of quantified shipboard observations that provides statistical descriptions of ice and snow thickness distributions;
- Identifying important data rescue projects that can provide quantitative historical sea ice zone information;
- Conducting ship-based process experiments at coastal polynyas, ice edges and interior pack ice zones;
- Integrating ASPeCt observations and experiments with complementary efforts in drifting buoys, upward looking sonar, satellite records and physical oceanography; and
- Providing validation and input data on ice properties and processes for coupled numerical models and satellite-based sensors.