Antarctic landfast sea ice (fast ice) is stationary sea ice that is attached to the coast, grounded icebergs, ice shelves, or other protrusions on the continental shelf. Fast ice forms in narrow (generally up to 200 km wide) bands, and ranges in thickness from centimeters to tens of meters. In most regions, it forms in autumn, persists through the winter and melts in spring/summer, but can remain throughout the summer in particular locations. Despite its relatively limited horizontal extent (comprising between about 4 and 13 \% of overall sea ice), its presence, variability and seasonality are drivers of a wide range of physical, biological and biogeochemical processes, with both local and far-ranging ramifications for various Earth systems. Antarctic fast ice has, until quite recently, been overlooked in studies, likely due to insufficient knowledge of its distribution, leading to its reputation as a “missing piece of the Antarctic puzzle”. This review presents a synthesis of current knowledge of the physical, biogeochemical and biological aspects of fast ice, based on the sub-domains of: fast ice growth, properties and seasonality; remote-sensing and distribution; interactions with the atmosphere and the ocean; biogeochemical interactions; its role in primary production; and fast ice as a habitat for grazers. Finally, we consider the potential state of Antarctic fast ice at the end of the 21st Century, underpinned by Coupled Model Intercomparison Project model projections. This review also gives recommendations for targeted future work to increase our understanding of this critically-important element of the global cryosphere.
Although operational weather forecasting centres are increasingly using global coupled atmosphere-ocean-ice models to replace atmosphere-only models for short-term (10-day) weather forecasting, the influence of sea ice on such forecasting has yet to be fully quantified, especially in the Southern Ocean. To address this gap, a polar-specific version of the Weather Research and Forecasting model is implemented within a circumpolar Antarctic domain to investigate the impact of daily updates of sea-ice concentration on short-term weather forecasting. A statistically-significant improvement in near-surface atmospheric temperature and humidity is shown from +48 hours to +192 hours when assimilating daily sea-ice concentration into the model. Improvement in model performance is enhanced from July to September, which is the period of late sea-ice advance. Regionally, model improvement is shown to occur in most sea-ice regions, although the improvement is strongest in the Ross Sea and Weddell Sea sectors. The surface heat balance also shows remarkable improvement in outgoing radiative heat fluxes and both sensible and latent heat fluxes after 48 hours. This research demonstrates the non-negligible effect of including daily updates of sea-ice concentration in numerical weather forecasting and indicates the necessity of implementing a fully coupled atmosphere-ocean-ice model in operational high-latitude southern hemisphere weather forecasting.