Weddell Sea, Antarctica #3377


#3377 Weddell Sea, Antarctica by JVPD
This Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar color composite shows a portion of the Weddell Sea, which is adjacent to the continent of Antarctica. The image shows extensive coverage of first-year sea ice mixtures and patches of open water inside the ice margin. The image covers a 100 kilometer by 30 kilometer (62 mile by 18.5 mile) region of the southern ocean, centered at approximately 57 degrees south latitude and 3 degrees east longitude, which was acquired on October 3, 1994. Data used to create this image were obtained using the L-band (horizontally transmitted and vertically received) in red; the L-band (horizontally transmitted and received) in green; and the C-band (horizontally transmitted and received) in blue. The sea ice, which appears rust-brown in the image, is composed of loosely packed floes from approximately 1 meter to 2 meters (3 feet to 6.5 feet) thick and ranging from 1 meter to 20 meters (3 feet to 65.5 feet) in diameter. Large patches of open water, shown as turquoise blue, are scattered throughout the area, which is typical for ice margins experiencing off-ice winds. The thin, well-organized lines clearly visible in the ice pack are caused by radar energy reflected by floes riding the crest of ocean swells. The wispy, black features seen throughout the image represent areas where new ice is forming. Sea ice, because it acts as an insulator, reduces the loss of heat between the relatively warm ocean and cold atmosphere. This interaction is an important component of the global climate system. Because of the unique combination of winds, currents and temperatures found in this region, ice can extend many hundreds of kilometers north of Antarctica each winter, which classifies the Weddell Sea as one of nature's greatest ice-making engines. During the formation of sea ice, great quantities of salt are expelled from the frozen water. The salt increases the density of the upper layer of sea water, which then sinks to great depths.

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech [0003-0701-0819-4426] by 0003

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Keywords

antarctica, earth science, geography, jpl, nasa, sea ice, weddell sea, weddell sea antarctica