Cyclone-induced rapid creation of extreme Antarctic sea ice conditions
Two polar vessels, Akademik Shokalskiy and Xuelong, were trapped by thick sea ice in the Antarctic coastal region just to the west of 144°E and between 66.5°S and 67°S in late December 2013. This event demonstrated the rapid establishment of extreme Antarctic sea ice conditions on synoptic time scales. The event was associated with cyclones that developed at lower latitudes. Near the event site, cyclone-enhanced strong southeasterly katabatic winds drove large westward drifts of ice floes. In addition, the cyclones also gave southward ice drift. The arrival and grounding of Iceberg B9B in Commonwealth Bay in March 2011 led to the growth of fast ice around it, forming a northward protruding barrier. This barrier blocked the westward ice drift and hence aided sea ice consolidation on its eastern side. Similar cyclone-induced events have occurred at this site in the past after the grounding of Iceberg B9B. Future events may be predictable on synoptic time scales, if cyclone-induced strong wind events can be predicted.