Dynamics of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf CTD and Thermistor Cable Measurements (1991-1992)

Data set information

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Data holding centreBritish Antarctic Survey
CountryUnited Kingdom  United Kingdom
Time periodFrom 1991 to 1992
Geographical area

Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf, Antarctica


Ice motion and related parameters; Salinity of the water column; Temperature of the water column; Snow and ice mass, thickness and extent


Sea level recorders; water temperature sensor; CTD; thermistor chains; snow and ice samplers


The overall science theme of the Ice and Climate Division of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is Pattern and Change in the Physical Environment of Antarctica. This includes improving the understanding of the operation of, and coupling between, components of the ice-ocean-atmosphere systems. One programme supporting this research area is the Dynamics of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The West Antarctic ice sheet is often quoted as being vulnerable to a climatic warming because it rests on a bed well below sea level. However, to give reliable predictions of, for example, the contribution likely to be made by the ice sheet to changes in global sea level, the processes controlling the size and stability of the ice sheet and associated ice shelves must be understood, and how these processes interact and respond to changing climate described. Understanding the present circulation beneath ice shelves, and the processes involved in the interactions between the ocean and the ice is a prerequisite for predicting how the oceans' impact on the ice shelves will be affected by a changing climate. Investigations have been carried out on the oceanographic conditions under the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf, by volume the largest ice shelf in the world. In January 1991, a hot water drill was used to produce a 560m access hole, 300km from the ice front of the Ronne Ice Shelf. A special-purpose, slim-line CTD probe with built-in water sampling bottle was deployed and CTD profiles and water samples were obtained from the 360m deep water column over a 2 day period. Thermistor cables, to monitor the water column, were lowered down the access hole and allowed to freeze in. Prior to this, no direct measurements had been made of the water column underlying the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf. A second set of data were collected during the 1991-92 field season at a site 200km from the ice front, with a 390m deep water column. The dataset consists of CTD profiles, water samples and temperature data from thermistor cables suspended below the base of the ice shelf.

OriginatorsBritish Antarctic Survey

Nicholls, K.W., Makinson, K. and Robinson, A.V. (1991) Ocean circulation beneath the Ronne ice shelf., Nature 354, 221-223.; Robinson, A.V., Makinson, K. and Nicholls, K.W. (1994) The oceanic environment beneath the north-west Ronne Ice Shelf., Annals of Glaciology 20: 386-390.

OrganisationBritish Antarctic Survey
AvailabilityBy negotiation
ContactAEDC Manager

British Antarctic Survey
High Cross Madingley Road

United Kingdom

Telephone+44 1223 251400
Collating centreBritish Oceanographic Data Centre
Local identifier1046004
Global identifier626
Last revised2009-12-01