- Anchor ice
Anchor Ice is described by the
World Meteorological Organizationas "submerged ice attached or anchored to the bottom, irrespective of the nature of its formation." Anchor ice is most commonly observed in fast-flowing rivers during periods of extreme cold, at the mouths of rivers flowing into very cold seawater, in the shallow sub or intertidalduring or after storms when the air temperature is below the freezing pointof the water, and in the subtidalin the Antarcticalong ice shelves or near floating glacier tongues.
Types and formation of anchor ice
Anchor ice in rivers
Anchor ice will generally form in fast-flowing rivers during periods of extreme cold. Due to the motion of the water, ice cover may not form consistently, and the water will quickly reach its
freezing pointdue to mixing and contact with the atmosphere. Ice platelets generally form very quickly in the water column and on submerged objects once conditions are optimal for anchor ice formation. Anchor ice in rivers tends to be composed of numerous small crystals adhering to each other in small flocculent masses. Anchor ice in rivers can seriously disrupt hydro-electric powerplants by significantly reducing flow or stopping turbines completely.
Another form of anchor ice may be observed at the mouths of
Arcticrivers where fresh water seeps out of the river bed into the ocean up through the sediment. Anchor ice forms if the seawater is below the freezing pointof the river water.
Anchor ice formed during storms
Anchor ice may be formed in the shallow
intertidalor subtidalduring storms in cold weather, when the uppermost layers of the water column are churned up by strong winds or waves. This type of anchor ice can be found primarily in the Arctic, where submerged ice may be observed to completely cover the substrate to depths of up to 2m, with some anchor ice cover observed at more than 4.5m depth.
Anchor ice in the Antarctic
Antarcticanchor ice is perhaps one of the most interesting phenomena of ice formation in the marine environment. The general mechanism of its formation is commonly assumed as the following:
*Antarctic surface waters are forced to flow below a large, thick mass of floating ice (
ice shelfor glacier tongue) due to tidal motions or normal ocean circulation.
*The surface water melts the underside of the mass of ice, causing a slight freshening of the water that brings the temperature of the water into equilibrium with the in-situ
freezing pointat depth.
*The water, at its
freezing pointat depth (slightly lower than the freezing point at the surface due to the pressure effect on the freezing point), is advected from under the floating mass of ice and may rise towards the surface due to a variety of factors.
*As the water rises the in-situ freezing point increases, leaving the water slightly supercooled.
Supercoolingis relieved by the formation of microscopic ice crystals in the water column.
*Ice crystals may coalesce or adhere to submerged objects, including marine organisms, rocks, man-made structures, or other ice formations such as the
sea ice,the ice foot, floating glaciers or icebergs.
Anchor ice crystals in the Antarctic are generally in the form of thin, circular platelets of 2-10cm in diameter. Large masses of irregularly-oriented crystals form anchor ice formations, which may be as large as 4m in diameter when attached to large immovable objects on the sea floor.
Anchor ice that forms on the underside of sea ice is often referred to as platelet or
congelation ice, and can be hard to distinguish from that formed due to the cooling of the sea ice cover by cold atmospheric conditions.
Anchor ice is thought to be relatively common in the Antarctic, due to large ice shelves that occupy many areas of the continental coast. Studies and observations of anchor ice formation in
McMurdo Sound, Antarcticahave shown that the phenomenon regularly causes the formation of ice on the seafloor to depths of approximately 15m, and rarely to depths of approximately 30m.
Especially in the
Antarctic, anchor ice has been implicated in drastic zonation of the subtidal fauna. Many animals are directly affected by the growth of anchor ice, and certain sponges have been shown to readily grow anchor ice and to be damaged by it. Anchor ice may also grow on animate or inanimate objects and lift them from the sea floor. In the Antarcticthis will most likely result in the death of an organism, since during much of the year the ocean is covered by annual sea ice, and the organism is likely to become incorporated into this.
Many organisms have actually been found on the surface of ice shelves in certain places in the
Antarctic, likely due to the anchor icing phenomenon:
*Organism accumulates anchor ice as it is bathed in supercooled water
*Organism becomes positively buoyant due to the accumulation of ice, and it lifted from the sea floor.
*Organism floats to the underside of the
ice shelfor sea icecover where it freezes in.
Ablationof the surface of the ice cover and additional growth on the underside will result in the organism being transported "through" the ice and "deposited" on the surface, largely intact.
* [http://faculty.gg.uwyo.edu/kempema/vidtour.html Anchor ice formation and rafting in rivers: A video tour]
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