Sea Ice Changes in the Adelie Depression during the Ice-Trapping Period of the Chinese Ice-Breaker RV Xuelong in January 2014
Monday, 15 December 2014
During the 30th Chinese Antarctic Expedition in 2013/14, the Chinese ice-breaker vessel RV Xuelong answered a rescue call for the Russian vessel Akademik Shokalskiy. While assisting the repatriation of personnel from the Russian vessel to the Australian RV Australis, the RV Xuelong itself became entrapped within the compacted ice in the Adelie Depression region. Here we present our analysis of MODIS and SAR imagery, to provide an in detail description of the regional sea ice conditions, which led to beset the RV Xuelong for ~6 days. The remotely sensed imagery clearly revealed the sea-ice characteristics during the four stages of the entrapment: gathering stage, compaction stage, dispersion stage and calving stage. Here we present our evaluation of the four factors characterizing the local sea-ice conditions during the late Dec 2013 and early January 2014: coastal current, wind, tide and temperature. This study demonstrates that high spatio-temporal resolution remote sensing data are required to monitor the local and regional sea-ice changes with view to avoid future entrapping of vessels due to drastic changes and to work towards improved understanding of sea-atmosphere-ice interactions.