Ross Sea

Last updated

Ross Sea
Ross Sea, Summer 2016 25.jpg
Sea ice in the Ross Sea
Seas of Antarctica, with the Ross Sea in the bottom-left
Location Antarctica
Coordinates 75°S175°W / 75°S 175°W / -75; -175 Coordinates: 75°S175°W / 75°S 175°W / -75; -175
Type Sea
Etymology James Ross
Primary outflows Southern Ocean

The Ross Sea is a deep bay of the Southern Ocean in Antarctica, between Victoria Land and Marie Byrd Land and within the Ross Embayment, and is the southernmost sea on Earth. It derives its name from the British explorer James Ross who visited this area in 1841. To the west of the sea lies Ross Island and Victoria Land, to the east Roosevelt Island and Edward VII Peninsula in Marie Byrd Land, while the southernmost part is covered by the Ross Ice Shelf, and is about 200 miles (320 km) from the South Pole. Its boundaries and area have been defined by the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research as having an area of 637,000 square kilometres (246,000 sq mi). [1]

Both headland and bay are two coastal features that are related and often found on the same coastline. A bay is a body of water—usually seawater and sometimes fresh water— mostly surrounded by land, whereas a headland is surrounded by water on three sides. Headlands are characterized by breaking waves, rocky shores, intense erosion and steep sea cliffs. Bays generally have less wave activity and typically have sandy beaches. Headlands and bays form on discordant coastlines, where the land consists of bands of rock of alternating resistance that run perpendicular to the coast.

Southern Ocean The ocean around Antarctica

The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean or the Austral Ocean, and the "Southern Icy Ocean".</ref> comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60° S latitude and encircling Antarctica. As such, it is regarded as the fourth largest of the five principal oceanic divisions: smaller than the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans but larger than the Arctic Ocean. This oceanic zone is where cold, northward flowing waters from the Antarctic mix with warmer subantarctic waters.

Antarctica Polar continent in the Earths southern hemisphere

Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,200,000 square kilometres, it is the fifth-largest continent and nearly twice the size of Australia. At 0.00008 people per square kilometre, it is by far the least densely populated continent. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1.9 km in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula.


The circulation of the Ross Sea is dominated by a wind-driven ocean gyre and the flow is strongly influenced by three submarine ridges that run from southwest to northeast[ citation needed ]. The circumpolar deep water current is a relatively warm, salty and nutrient-rich water mass that flows onto the continental shelf at certain locations. [2] [3] The Ross Sea is covered with ice for most of the year[ citation needed ].

Ocean gyre Any large system of circulating ocean currents

In oceanography, a gyre is any large system of circulating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Gyres are caused by the Coriolis effect; planetary vorticity along with horizontal and vertical friction, determine the circulation patterns from the wind stress curl (torque).

Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) is a designation given to the water mass in the Pacific and Indian oceans that essentially characterizes a mixing of other water masses in the region. A distinguishing characteristic is the water is not formed at the surface, but rather by a blending of other water masses, including the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), the Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW), and the Pacific Intermediate Water masses.

The nutrient-laden water supports an abundance of plankton and this encourages a rich marine fauna. At least ten mammal species, six bird species and 95 fish species are found here, as well as many invertebrates, and the sea remains relatively unaffected by human activities. New Zealand has claimed that the sea comes under its jurisdiction as part of the Ross Dependency. Marine biologists consider the sea to have a high level of biological diversity and it is the site of much scientific research. It is also the focus of some environmentalist groups who have campaigned to have the area proclaimed as a world marine reserve. In 2016 an international agreement established the region as a marine park. [4]

Plankton Organisms that live in the water column and are incapable of swimming against a current

Plankton are the diverse collection of organisms that live in large bodies of water and are unable to swim against a current. The individual organisms constituting plankton are called plankters. They provide a crucial source of food to many small and large aquatic organisms, such as bivalves, fish and whales.

Ross Dependency New Zealands territorial claim in Antarctica

The Ross Dependency is a region of Antarctica defined by a sector originating at the South Pole, passing along longitudes 160° east to 150° west, and terminating at latitude 60° south. It is claimed by New Zealand. Since the Antarctic Treaty came into force in 1961, Article IV of which states: "No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica," most countries do not recognise territorial claims in Antarctica.


The Ross Sea was discovered by James Ross in 1841. In the west of the Ross Sea is Ross Island with the Mt. Erebus volcano, in the east Roosevelt Island. The southern part is covered by the Ross Ice Shelf. [5] Roald Amundsen started his South Pole expedition in 1911 from the Bay of Whales, which was located at the shelf. In the west of the Ross sea, McMurdo Sound is a port that is usually free of ice during the summer. The southernmost part of the Ross Sea is Gould Coast, which is approximately two hundred miles from the geographic South Pole.

James Clark Ross British explorer and naval officer

Sir James Clark Ross was a British Royal Navy officer and explorer known for his exploration of the Arctic with Sir William Parry and his uncle, Sir John Ross, and in particular, his own Antarctic expedition from 1839 to 1843.

Ross Island island formed by four volcanoes in the Ross Sea near the continent of Antarctica

Ross Island is an island formed by four volcanoes in the Ross Sea near the continent of Antarctica, off the coast of Victoria Land in McMurdo Sound. Ross Island lies within the boundaries of Ross Dependency, an area of Antarctica claimed by New Zealand.

Mount Erebus volcano on Ross Island, Antarctica

Mount Erebus is the second-highest volcano in Antarctica and the southernmost active volcano on Earth. It is the sixth-highest ultra mountain on the continent. With a summit elevation of 3,794 metres (12,448 ft), it is located in the Ross Dependency on Ross Island, which is also home to three inactive volcanoes: Mount Terror, Mount Bird, and Mount Terra Nova.


The continental shelf

Bathymetric map of the Ross Sea, Antarctica GPM 16 fred Ross CC.pdf
Bathymetric map of the Ross Sea, Antarctica

The Ross Sea (and Ross Ice Shelf) overlies a deep continental shelf. Although the average depth of the world's continental shelves (at the shelf break joining the continental slope) is about 130 meters, [6] [7] the Ross shelf average depth is about 500 meters. [8] It is shallower in the western Ross Sea (east longitudes) than the east (west longitudes). [8] This over-deepened condition is due to cycles of erosion and deposition of sediments from expanding and contracting ice sheets overriding the shelf during Oligocene and later time, [9] and is also found on other locations around Antarctica. [10] Erosion was more focused on the inner parts of the shelf while deposition of sediment dominated the outer shelf, making the inner shelf deeper than the outer. [9] [11]

Ross Ice Shelf ice shelf in Antarctica

The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest ice shelf of Antarctica. It is several hundred metres thick. The nearly vertical ice front to the open sea is more than 600 kilometres (370 mi) long, and between 15 and 50 metres high above the water surface. Ninety percent of the floating ice, however, is below the water surface.

Continental shelf A portion of a continent that is submerged under an area of relatively shallow water known as a shelf sea

A continental shelf is a portion of a continent that is submerged under an area of relatively shallow water known as a shelf sea. Much of the shelves were exposed during glacial periods and interglacial periods. The shelf surrounding an island is known as an insular shelf.

The Oligocene is a geologic epoch of the Paleogene Period and extends from about 33.9 million to 23 million years before the present. As with other older geologic periods, the rock beds that define the epoch are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the epoch are slightly uncertain. The name Oligocene was coined in 1854 by the German paleontologist Heinrich Ernst Beyrich; the name comes from the Ancient Greek ὀλίγος and καινός, and refers to the sparsity of extant forms of molluscs. The Oligocene is preceded by the Eocene Epoch and is followed by the Miocene Epoch. The Oligocene is the third and final epoch of the Paleogene Period.

Ross Sea Antarctica sea floor geology showing major basins and drill sites Ross Sea Antarctica sea floor geology.svg
Ross Sea Antarctica sea floor geology showing major basins and drill sites

Seismic studies in the latter half of the twentieth century defined the major features of the geology of the Ross Sea. [12] The deepest or basement rocks, are faulted into four major north trending graben systems, which are basins for sedimentary fill. These basins include the Northern and Victoria Land Basin in the west, the Central Trough, and the Eastern Basin, which has approximately the same width as the other three. The Coulman High separates the Victoria Land Basin and Central Trough and the Central High separates the Central Trough and Eastern Basin. The majority of the faulting and accompanying graben formation along with crustal extension occurred during the rifting away of the Zealandia microcontinent from Antarctica in Gondwana during Cretaceous time. [13] Paleogene and Neogene -age and faulting and extension is restricted to the Victoria Land Basin and Northern Basin. [14] [15]

Graben Depressed block of planetary crust bordered by parallel faults

In geology, a graben is a depressed block of the crust of a planet bordered by parallel faults.

Zealandia Mostly submerged mass of continental crust containing New Zealand and New Caledonia

Zealandia, also known as the New Zealand continent or Tasmantis, is an almost entirely submerged mass of continental crust that sank after breaking away from Australia 60–85 million years ago, having separated from Antarctica between 85 and 130 million years ago. It has variously been described as a continental fragment, a microcontinent, a submerged continent, and a continent. The name and concept for Zealandia was proposed by Bruce Luyendyk in 1995. Zealandia's status as a continent is not universally accepted, but New Zealand geologist Nick Mortimer has commented that "if it wasn't for the ocean" it would have been recognized as such long ago.

The Cretaceous is a geologic period and system that spans from the end of the Jurassic Period 145 million years ago (mya) to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 mya. It is the last period of the Mesozoic Era, and the longest period of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cretaceous Period is usually abbreviated K, for its German translation Kreide.


Basement grabens are filled with rift sediments of uncertain character and age. [12] A widespread unconformity has cut into the basement and sedimentary fill of the large basins. [12] [16] Above this major unconformity (named RSU-6 [17] ) are a series of glacial marine sedimentary units deposited during multiple advances and retreats of the Antarctic Ice Sheet across the sea floor of the Ross Sea during the Oligocene and later. [9]

Geologic Drilling

Drill holes have recovered cores of rock from the western edges of the sea. The most ambitious recent efforts are the Cape Roberts Project (CRP) and the ANDRILL project. [18] [19] [20] Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Leg 28 completed several holes (270-273) farther from land in the central and western portions of the sea. [21] These resulted in defining a stratigraphy for most of the older glacial sequences, which comprise Oligocene and younger sediments. The Ross Sea-wide major unconformity RSU-6 has been proposed to mark a global climate event and the first appearance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in the Oligocene. [22] [23] [24]

During 2018, Expedition 374 of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), the latest successor to the DSDP, drilled additional holes (U1521-1525) in the central Ross Sea for determining Neogene and Quaternary ice sheet history. [25]


The nature of the basement rocks and the fill within the grabens are known in few locations. Basement rocks have been sampled at DSDP Leg 28 drill site 270 where metamorphic rocks of unknown age were recovered, [21] and in the eastern Ross Sea where a bottom dredge was collected. [26] In both these locations the metamorphic rocks are mylonites deformed in the Cretaceous suggesting extreme stretching of the Ross Embayment during that time. [27] [26]

Marie Byrd Land - Rocks exposed in western Marie Byrd Land on the Edward VII Peninsula and within the Ford Ranges are candidates for basement in the eastern Ross Sea. [28] The oldest rocks are Permian sediments of the Swanson Formation, which is slightly metamorphosed. The Ford granodiorite of Devonian age intrudes these sediments. Cretaceous Byrd Coast granite in turn intrudes the older rocks. The Byrd Coast and older formations have been cut by basalt dikes. Scattered through the Ford Ranges and Fosdick Mountains are late Cenozoic volcanic rocks that are not found to the west on Edward VII Peninsula. Metamorphic rocks, migmatites, are found in the Fosdick Mountains and Alexandra Mountains. [29] [30] These were metamorphosed and deformed in the Cretaceous. [31] [32]

The Ross Supergroup system and Beacon Supergroup - Ross System rocks exposed in Victoria Land and in the Transantarctic Mountains on the western side of the Ross Sea [33] [34] are possible basement rock below the sedimentary cover of the sea floor. The rocks are of upper Precambrian to lower Paleozoic in age, deformed in many places during the Ross Orogeny in the Cambrian. [34] These miogeosyncline metasedimentary rocks are partly composed of calcium carbonate, often including limestone. Groups within the Ross System include the Robertson Bay Group, Priestley Group, Skelton Group, Beardmore Group, Byrd Group, Queen Maud Group, and Koettlitz Group. The Robertson Bay Group compares closely with other Ross System members. The Priestley Group rocks are similar to those of the Robertson Bay Group and include dark slates, argillites, siltstones, fine sandstones and limestones. They can be found near the Priestley and Campbell glaciers. For thirty miles along the lower Skelton Glacier are the calcareous greywackes and argillites of the Skelton Group. The region between the lower Beardmore Glacier and the lower Shackelton Glacier sits the Beardmore Group. North of the Nimrod Glacier are four block faulted ranges that make up the Byrd Group. The contents of the Queen Maud Group area are mainly post-tectonic granite.

Beacon Sandstone of Devonian-Triassic age [35] and the Ferarr volcanic rocks of Jurassic age are separated from the Ross Supergroup by the Kukri Peneplain. Beacon rocks are reported to have been recovered in the drill cores of the Cape Roberts Project at the western edge of the Ross Sea. [36] [37] [38] [39]



Bloom in the Ross Sea, January 2011 Bloom in the Ross Sea.jpg
Bloom in the Ross Sea, January 2011

The Ross Sea circulation, dominated by polynya processes, is in general very slow-moving. Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) is a relatively warm, salty and nutrient-rich water mass that flows onto the continental shelf at certain locations in the Ross Sea. Through heat flux, this water mass moderates the ice cover. The near-surface water also provides a warm environment for some animals and nutrients to excite primary production. CDW transport onto the shelf is known to be persistent and periodic, and is thought to occur at specific locations influenced by bottom topography. The circulation of the Ross Sea is dominated by a wind-driven gyre. The flow is strongly influenced by three submarine ridges that run from southwest to northeast. Flow over the shelf below the surface layer consists of two anticyclonic gyres connected by a central cyclonic flow. The flow is considerable in spring and winter, due to influencing tides. The Ross Sea is covered with ice for much of the year and ice concentrations and in the south-central region little melting occurs. Ice concentrations in the Ross Sea are influenced by winds with ice remaining in the western region throughout the austral spring and generally melting in January due to local heating. This leads to extremely strong stratification and shallow mixed layers in the western Ross Sea. [40]

Ecological importance and conservation

The Ross Sea is one of the last stretches of seas on Earth that remains relatively unaffected by human activities. [41] Because of this, it remains almost totally free from pollution and the introduction of invasive species. Consequently, the Ross Sea has become a focus of numerous environmentalist groups who have campaigned to make the area a world marine reserve, citing the rare opportunity to protect the Ross Sea from a growing number of threats and destruction. The Ross Sea is regarded by marine biologists as having a very high biological diversity and as such has a long history of human exploration and scientific research, with some datasets going back over 150 years. [42] [43]


The Ross Sea is home to at least 10 mammal species, half a dozen species of birds, 95 species of fish, and over 1,000 invertebrate species. Some species of birds that nest in and near the Ross Sea include the Adélie penguin, emperor penguin, Antarctic petrel, snow petrel, and south polar skua. Marine mammals in the Ross Sea include the Antarctic minke whale, killer whale, Weddell seal, crabeater seal, and leopard seal. Antarctic toothfish, Antarctic silverfish, Antarctic krill, and crystal krill also swim in the cold Antarctic water of the Ross Sea. [44]

The flora and fauna are considered similar to other southern Antarctic marine regions. Particularly in Summer, the nutrient-rich sea water supports an abundant planktonic life in turn providing food for larger species, such as fish, seals, whales, and sea- and shore-birds.

Albatrosses rely on wind to travel and cannot get airborne in a calm. The westerlies do not extend as far south as the ice edge and therefore albatrosses do not travel often to the ice-pack. An albatross would be trapped on an ice floe for many days if it landed in the calm. [45]

The coastal parts of the sea contain a number of rookeries of Adélie and Emperor penguins, which have been observed at a number of places around the Ross Sea, both towards the coast and outwards in open sea. [5]

A 10-metre (32.8 feet) long colossal squid weighing 495 kilograms (1,091 lb) was captured in the Ross Sea on February 22, 2007. [46] [47] [48] [49] [50]

Toothfish Fishery

In 2010, the Ross Sea Antarctic toothfish fishery was independently certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, [51] and has been rated as a 'Good Alternative' by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program[ citation needed ]. However, a 2008 document submitted to the CCAMLR reported significant declines in toothfish populations of McMurdo Sound coinciding with the development of the industrial toothfishing industry since 1996, and other reports have noted a coincident decrease in the number of orcas. The report recommended a full moratorium on fishing over the Ross shelf. [52] In October 2012, Philippa Ross, James Ross' great, great, great granddaughter, voiced her opposition to fishing in the area. [53]

In the southern winter of 2017 New Zealand scientists discovered the breeding ground of the Antarctic toothfish in the northern Ross Sea seamounts for the first time [54] underscoring how little is known about the species.

Marine Protected Area

Beginning in 2005, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) commissioned scientific analysis and planning for Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the Antarctic. In 2010, the CCAMLR endorsed their Scientific Committee's proposal to develop Antarctic MPAs for conservation purposes. The US State Department submitted a proposal for a Ross Sea MPA at the September 2012 meeting of the CCAMLR. [55] At this stage, a sustained campaign by various international and national NGOs commenced to accelerate the process. [56]

In July 2013, the CCAMLR held a meeting in Bremerhaven in Germany, to decide whether to turn the Ross Sea into an MPA. The deal failed due to Russia voting against it, citing uncertainty about whether the commission had the authority to establish a marine protected area. [57]

In October 2014, the MPA proposal was again defeated at the CCAMLR by votes against from China and Russia. [58] At the October 2015 meeting a revised MPA proposal from the US and New Zealand was expanded with the assistance of China, who however shifted the MPA's priorities from conservation by allowing commercial fishing. The proposal was again blocked by Russia. [59]

On 28 October 2016, at its annual meeting in Hobart, a Ross Sea marine park was finally declared by the CCAMLR, under an agreement signed by 24 countries and the European Union. It protected over 1.5 million square kilometres of sea, and was the world's largest protected area at the time. However, a sunset provision of 35 years was inserted as part of negotiations, which means it does not meet the International Union for Conservation of Nature definition of a marine protected area, which requires it to be permanent. [4]

The Bay of Whales is featured as the location for the landing point and base camp of an all-female explorer team in Ursula K. LeGuin's short story Sur. In the story, the women are the first people to reach the south pole, but keep their achievement a secret in order to save Amundsen from embarrassment. [60]

See also

Related Research Articles

Weddell Sea Part of the Southern Ocean between Coats Land and the Antarctic Peninsula

The Weddell Sea is part of the Southern Ocean and contains the Weddell Gyre. Its land boundaries are defined by the bay formed from the coasts of Coats Land and the Antarctic Peninsula. The easternmost point is Cape Norvegia at Princess Martha Coast, Queen Maud Land. To the east of Cape Norvegia is the King Haakon VII Sea. Much of the southern part of the sea is covered by a permanent, massive ice shelf field, the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf.

Antarctic toothfish species of fish

The Antarctic toothfish is a species of notothen native to the Southern Ocean. It is often mistakenly referred to as an Antarctic cod, consistent with the misnaming of other notothenioid Antarctic fish as rock cods. However, notothenioid fishes are unrelated to cods, which are in another taxonomic order, the Gadiformes. The generic name Dissostichus is from the Greek dissos (twofold) and stichus (line) and refers to the presence of two long lateral lines, which are very important to the species’ ecology. The common name "toothfish" refers to the presence of biserial dentition in the upper jaw, thought to give it a shark-like appearance. The habitat of the Antarctic toothfish is in subzero degree water below latitude 60°S.

Patagonian toothfish species of fish

The Patagonian toothfish is a species of notothen found in cold waters between depths of 45 and 3,850 m in the southern Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans and Southern Ocean on seamounts and continental shelves around most Subantarctic islands.

Amundsen Sea An arm of the Southern Ocean off Marie Byrd Land in western Antarctica between Cape Flying Fish to the east and Cape Dart on Siple Island to the west

The Amundsen Sea, an arm of the Southern Ocean off Marie Byrd Land in western Antarctica, lies between Cape Flying Fish to the east and Cape Dart on Siple Island to the west. Cape Flying Fish marks the boundary between the Amundsen Sea and the Bellingshausen Sea. West of Cape Dart there is no named marginal sea of the Southern Ocean between the Amundsen and Ross Seas. The Norwegian expedition of 1928–1929 under Captain Nils Larsen named the body of water for the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen while exploring this area in February 1929.

Transantarctic Mountains mountain range in Antarctica

The Transantarctic Mountains comprise a mountain range of uplifted sedimentary rock in Antarctica which extend, with some interruptions, across the continent from Cape Adare in northern Victoria Land to Coats Land. These mountains divide East Antarctica and West Antarctica. They include a number of separately named mountain groups, which are often again subdivided into smaller ranges.

Marie Byrd Land Geographic region

Marie Byrd Land is the portion of West Antarctica lying east of the Ross Ice Shelf and the Ross Sea and south of the Pacific Ocean, extending eastward approximately to a line between the head of the Ross Ice Shelf and Eights Coast. It stretches between 158°W and 103°24'W. The inclusion of the area between the Rockefeller Plateau and Eights Coast is based upon the leading role of the American Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd in the exploration of this area. The name was originally applied by Admiral Byrd in 1929, in honor of his wife, to the northwestern part of the area, the part that was explored in that year.

Antarctic ice sheet Polar ice cap

The Antarctic ice sheet is one of the two polar ice caps of the Earth. It covers about 98% of the Antarctic continent and is the largest single mass of ice on Earth. It covers an area of almost 14 million square kilometres and contains 26.5 million cubic kilometres of ice. A cubic kilometer of ice weighs approximately one metric gigaton, meaning that the ice sheet weighs 26,500,000 gigatons. Approximately 61 percent of all fresh water on the Earth is held in the Antarctic ice sheet, an amount equivalent to about 58 m of sea-level rise. In East Antarctica, the ice sheet rests on a major land mass, while in West Antarctica the bed can extend to more than 2,500 m below sea level.

Iceberg B-15 Largest recorded iceberg. Calved from the Ross Ice Shelf of Antarctica in March 2000

Iceberg B-15 was the world's largest recorded iceberg. It measured around 295 kilometres (183 mi) long and 37 kilometres (23 mi) wide, with a surface area of 11,000 square kilometres (4,200 sq mi)—larger than the whole island of Jamaica. Calved from the Ross Ice Shelf of Antarctica in March 2000, Iceberg B-15 broke up into smaller icebergs, the largest of which was named Iceberg B-15A. In 2003, B-15A drifted away from Ross Island into the Ross Sea and headed north, eventually breaking up into several smaller icebergs in October 2005. As of 2018, a large piece of the original iceberg was steadily moving northward, located between the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island.

West Antarctica geographic region

West Antarctica, or Lesser Antarctica, one of the two major regions of Antarctica, is the part of that continent that lies within the Western Hemisphere, and includes the Antarctic Peninsula. It is separated from East Antarctica by the Transantarctic Mountains and is covered by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. It lies between the Ross Sea, and the Weddell Sea. It may be considered a giant peninsula stretching from the South Pole towards the tip of South America.

Pine Island Glacier glacier

Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is a large ice stream, and the fastest melting glacier in Antarctica, responsible for about 25% of Antarctica's ice loss. The glacier ice streams flow west-northwest along the south side of the Hudson Mountains into Pine Island Bay, Amundsen Sea, Antarctica. It was mapped by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from surveys and United States Navy (USN) air photos, 1960–66, and named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) in association with Pine Island Bay.

Antarctic bottom water A cold, dense, water mass originating in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica

The Antarctic bottom water (AABW) is a type of water mass in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica with temperatures ranging from −0.8 to 2 °C (35 °F), salinities from 34.6 to 34.7 psu. Being the densest water mass of the oceans, AABW is found to occupy the depth range below 4000 m of all ocean basins that have a connection to the Southern Ocean at that level.

West Antarctic Rift

The West Antarctic Rift system (WARS) is a series of rift valleys lying between East and West Antarctica. It encompasses the Ross Embayment, the Ross Sea, the area under the Ross Ice Shelf and a part of Marie Byrd Land in West Antarctica, reaching to the base of the Antarctic Peninsula. It has an estimated length of 3000 km and a width of approximately 700 km. Its evolution is due to lithospheric thinning of an area of Antarctica that resulted in the demarcation of East and West Antarctica. The scale and evolution of the rift system has been compared to that of the Basin and Range Province of the western U.S.

Dissostichus genus of fishes

Dissostichus, the toothfish, is a genus of notothen found in the Southern Hemisphere. Toothfishes are marketed in the United States as Chilean sea bass or less frequently as white cod. "Chilean sea bass" is a marketing name, coined in 1977 by Lee Lantz, a fish wholesaler who wanted a more attractive name for selling the Patagonian toothfish to Americans. In 1994, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted "Chilean sea bass" as an "alternative market name" for Patagonian toothfish. The toothfish was remarkably successful in the United States, Europe and Asia, and earned the nickname “white gold” within the market. Toothfishes are vital to the ecological structure of Southern Ocean ecosystems. For this reason, on 4 September a national day is dedicated to the toothfish in South Georgia.

Haskell Strait, Antarctica tidal flow under the McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica

Haskell Strait refers to the ocean passage in southern McMurdo Sound, running between Cape Armitage, Ross Island and Cape Spencer-Smith, White Island, Antarctica. Oceanographically, it separates McMurdo Sound from the ocean basin beneath the Ross Ice Shelf. The Strait itself is around 25 km wide and in places over 900 m deep. Currents of nearly half a knot have been measured in the Strait, although typical flows are lower. It is mostly covered by the ice of the McMurdo Ice Shelf and fast ice in southern McMurdo Sound. On rare occasions sea-ice breakout exposes the north-west corner of the Strait which becomes navigable and vessels can actually moor off Scott Base.

Christine Siddoway American Antarctic researcher,

Christine Siddoway is an American Antarctic researcher, best known for her work on the geology and tectonics of the Ford Ranges in western Marie Byrd Land.

Mount Luyendyk mountain in Antarctica

Mount Luyendyk is a summit in the western Fosdick Mountains of the Ford Ranges of Marie Byrd Land, West Antarctica. It forms a prominent exposure in the northwestern Iphigene massif. The peak is named in recognition of Bruce P. Luyendyk, professor (emeritus), University of California,Santa Barbara, who was active in ground- and ocean-based Antarctic research from 1989-2015, significantly advancing the scientific knowledge of the Ross Embayment region of Antarctica. Luyendyk led two on-land expeditions in the Ford Ranges, and was principal investigator for five marine geophysical expeditions in the Ross Sea.

Bruce P. Luyendyk American geophysicist and oceanographer

Bruce Peter Luyendyk is an American geophysicist and oceanographer, currently professor emeritus of marine geophysics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His work spans marine geology of the major ocean basins, the tectonics of southern California, marine hydrocarbon seeps, and the tectonics and paleoclimate of Antarctica. His research includes tectonic rotations of the California Transverse Ranges, participation in the discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents, quantitative studies of marine hydrocarbon seeps, and geologic exploration of the Ford Ranges in Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica.

Ross Embayment

The Ross Embayment is a large region of Antarctica, comprising the Ross Ice Shelf and the Ross Sea, that lies between East and West Antarctica.

Natalie Robinson Antarctic, climate and atmospheric researcher

Natalie Robinson, an Antarctic researcher, is based at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand. She led the final two K131 Science Events on the sea ice of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.


  1. "About the Ross Sea". NIWA. 27 July 2012. Archived from the original on 24 February 2018. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  2. Jacobs, Stanley S.; Amos, Anthony F.; Bruchhausen, Peter M. (1 December 1970). "Ross sea oceanography and antarctic bottom water formation". Deep Sea Research and Oceanographic Abstracts. 17 (6): 935–962. doi:10.1016/0011-7471(70)90046-X. ISSN   0011-7471.
  3. Dinniman, Michael S.; Klinck, John M.; Smith, Walker O. (1 November 2003). "Cross-shelf exchange in a model of the Ross Sea circulation and biogeochemistry". Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. The US JGOFS Synthesis and Modeling Project: Phase II. 50 (22): 3103–3120. doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2003.07.011. ISSN   0967-0645.
  4. 1 2 Slezak, Michael (26 October 2016). "World's largest marine park created in Ross Sea in Antarctica in landmark deal". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 October 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  5. 1 2 "Ross Sea (sea, Pacific Ocean) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  6. Gross, M. Grant (1977). Oceanography: A view of the Earth (6 ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p. 28.
  7. Shepard, F.P. (1963). Submarine Geology (2 ed.). New York: Harper & Row. p. 264.
  8. 1 2 Hayes, D.E.; Davey, F.J. (1975). "A Geophysical Study of the Ross Sea, Antarctica" (PDF). Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project, 28. Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project. 28. doi:10.2973/dsdp.proc.28.134.1975. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 July 2017.
  9. 1 2 3 Bartek, L. R.; Vail, P. R.; Anderson, J. B.; Emmet, P. A.; Wu, S. (10 April 1991). "Effect of Cenozoic ice sheet fluctuations in Antarctica on the stratigraphic signature of the Neogene". Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 96 (B4): 6753–6778. doi:10.1029/90jb02528. ISSN   2156-2202.
  10. Barker, P.F., Barrett, P.J., Camerlenghi, A., Cooper, A.K., Davey, F.J., Domack, E.W., Escutia, C., Kristoffersen, Y. and O'Brien, P.E. (1998). "Ice sheet history from Antarctic continental margin sediments: the ANTOSTRAT approach". Terra Antarctica. 5 (4): 737–760.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. Ten Brink, Uri S.; Schneider, Christopher; Johnson, Aaron H. (1995). "Morphology and stratal geometry of the Antarctic continental shelf: insights from models". In Cooper, Alan K.; Barker, Peter F.; Brancolini, Giuliano (eds.). Geology and Seismic Stratigraphy of the Antarctic Margin. American Geophysical Union. pp. 1–24. doi:10.1029/ar068p0001. hdl:1912/1602. ISBN   9781118669013.
  12. 1 2 3 The Antarctic continental margin : geology and geophysics of the western Ross Sea. Cooper, Alan K., Davey, Frederick J., Circum-Pacific Council for Energy and Mineral Resources. Houston, Tex., U.S.A.: Circum-Pacific Council for Energy and Mineral Resources. 1987. ISBN   978-0933687059. OCLC   15366732.CS1 maint: others (link)
  13. Lawver, L. A., and L. M. Gahagan. 1994. "Constraints on timing of extension in the Ross Sea region." Terra Antartica1:545-552.
  14. Davey, F. J.; Cande, S. C.; Stock, J. M. (27 October 2006). "Extension in the western Ross Sea region-links between Adare Basin and Victoria Land Basin" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 33 (20). doi:10.1029/2006gl027383. ISSN   0094-8276.
  15. Granot, Roi; Dyment, Jérôme (9 August 2018). "Late Cenozoic unification of East and West Antarctica". Nature Communications. 9 (1): 3189. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-05270-w. ISSN   2041-1723. PMC   6085322 . PMID   30093679.
  16. Geology and seismic stratigraphy of the Antarctic margin, 2. Barker, Peter F., Cooper, Alan K. Washington, D.C.: American Geophysical Union. 1997. ISBN   9781118668139. OCLC   772504633.CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. Hinz, K., and M. Block. 1984. "Results of geophysical investigations in the Weddell Sea and in the Ross Sea, Antarctica." In Proceedings of the Eleventh World Petroleum Congress (London 1983), edited by World_Petroleum_Council, 279–291. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
  18. Barrett, P. J.; Treves, S. B. (1981), "Sedimentology and petrology of core from DVDP 15, western McMurdo Sound", Dry Valley Drilling Project, American Geophysical Union, pp. 281–314, doi:10.1029/ar033p0281, ISBN   978-0875901770
  19. Davey, F. J.; Barrett, P. J.; Cita, M. B.; van der Meer, J. J. M.; Tessensohn, F.; Thomson, M. R. A.; Webb, P.-N.; Woolfe, K. J. (2001). "Drilling for Antarctic Cenozoic climate and tectonic history at Cape Roberts, Southwestern Ross Sea". Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union. 82 (48): 585. doi:10.1029/01eo00339. ISSN   0096-3941.
  20. Paulsen, Timothy S.; Pompilio, Massimo; Niessen, Frank; Panter, Kurt; Jarrard, Richard D. (2012). "Introduction: The ANDRILL McMurdo Ice Shelf (MIS) and Southern McMurdo Sound (SMS) Drilling Projects". Geosphere. 8 (3): 546–547. doi:10.1130/ges00813.1. ISSN   1553-040X.
  21. 1 2 Hayes, D.E.; Frakes, L.A. (1975), "General Synthesis, Deep Sea Drilling Project Leg 28" (PDF), Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project, 28, Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project, 28, U.S. Government Printing Office, doi:10.2973/dsdp.proc.28.136.1975 , retrieved 28 August 2018
  22. Anderson, John B.; Bartek, Louis R. (1992), "Cenozoic glacial history of the Ross Sea revealed by intermediate resolution seismic reflection data combined with drill site information", The Antarctic Paleoenvironment: A Perspective on Global Change: Part One, American Geophysical Union, pp. 231–263, doi:10.1029/ar056p0231, ISBN   978-0875908236
  23. Brancolini, Giuliano; Cooper, Alan K.; Coren, Franco (16 March 2013), "Seismic Facies and Glacial History in the Western Ross Sea (Antarctica)", Geology and Seismic Stratigraphy of the Antarctic Margin, American Geophysical Union, pp. 209–233, doi:10.1029/ar068p0209, ISBN   9781118669013
  24. Decesari, Robert C., Christopher C. Sorlien, Bruce P. Luyendyk, Douglas S. Wilson, Louis Bartek, John Diebold, and Sarah E. Hopkins (24 July 2007). "USGS Open-File Report 2007-1047, Short Research Paper 052". Regional Seismic Stratigraphic Correlations of the Ross Sea: Implications for the Tectonic History of the West Antarctic Rift System. 2007 (1047sir052). doi:10.3133/of2007-1047.srp052. ISSN   0196-1497.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  25. Robert M. McKay; Laura De Santis; Denise K. Kulhanek; and the Expedition Scientists 374 (24 May 2018). International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 374 Preliminary Report. International Ocean Discovery Program Preliminary Report. International Ocean Discovery Program. doi:10.14379/ maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. 1 2 Siddoway, Christine Smith; Baldwin, Suzanne L.; Fitzgerald, Paul G.; Fanning, C. Mark; Luyendyk, Bruce P. (2004). "Ross Sea mylonites and the timing of intracontinental extension within the West Antarctic rift system". Geology. 32 (1): 57. doi:10.1130/g20005.1. ISSN   0091-7613.
  27. Fitzgerald, P. G., and S. L. Baldwin. 1997. "Detachment Fault Model for the Evolution of the Ross Embayment." In The Antarctic Region: Geological Evolution and Processes, edited by C. A. Ricci, 555-564. Siena: Terra Antarctica Pub.
  28. Luyendyk, Bruce P.; Wilson, Douglas S.; Siddoway, Christine S. (2003). "Eastern margin of the Ross Sea Rift in western Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica: Crustal structure and tectonic development". Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. 4 (10). doi:10.1029/2002gc000462. ISSN   1525-2027.
  29. Luyendyk, B. P., S. M. Richard, C. H. Smith, and D. L. Kimbrough. 1992. "Geological and geophysical investigations in the northern Ford Ranges, Marie Byrd Land, West Antarctica." In Recent Progress in Antarctic Earth Science: Proceedings of the 6th Symposium on Antarctic Earth Science, Saitama, Japan, 1991, edited by Y. Yoshida, K. Kaminuma and K. Shiraishi, 279-288. Tokyo, Japan: Terra Pub.
  30. Richard, S. M.; Smith, C. H.; Kimbrough, D. L.; Fitzgerald, P. G.; Luyendyk, B. P.; McWilliams, M. O. (1994). "Cooling history of the northern Ford Ranges, Marie Byrd Land, West Antarctica". Tectonics. 13 (4): 837–857. doi:10.1029/93tc03322. ISSN   0278-7407.
  31. Siddoway, C., S. Richard, C. M. Fanning, and B. P. Luyendyk. 2004. "Origin and emplacement mechanisms for a middle Cretaceous gneiss dome, Fosdick Mountains, West Antarctica (Chapter 16)." In Gneiss domes in orogeny, edited by D. L. Whitney, C. T. Teyssier and C. Siddoway, 267-294. Geological Society of America Special Paper 380.
  32. Korhonen, F. J.; Brown, M.; Grove, M.; Siddoway, C. S.; Baxter, E. F.; Inglis, J. D. (17 October 2011). "Separating metamorphic events in the Fosdick migmatite-granite complex, West Antarctica". Journal of Metamorphic Geology. 30 (2): 165–192. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1314.2011.00961.x. ISSN   0263-4929.
  33. Faure, Gunter; Mensing, Teresa M. (2011). The Transantarctic Mountains. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-9390-5. ISBN   978-1-4020-8406-5.
  34. 1 2 Stump, Edmund (1995). The Ross orogen of the Transantarctic Mountains. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-0521433143. OCLC   30671271.
  35. Barrett, P. J. (1981). "History of the Ross Sea region during the deposition of the Beacon Supergroup 400 - 180 million years ago". Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 11 (4): 447–458. doi:10.1080/03036758.1981.10423334. ISSN   0303-6758.
  36. Barrett, P. J., C. R. A. Fielding, and S. Wise, eds. 1998. Initial Report on CRP-1, Cape Roberts Project, Antarctica. Vol. 5, Terra Antartica. Siena: Terra Antartica.
  37. Barrett, P.J., F.J. Davey, W.U. Ehrmann, M.J. Hambrey, R. Jarrard, J.J.M. van der Meer, J. Raine, A.P. Roberts, F. Talarico, and D.K. Watkins, eds. 2001. Studies from the Cape Roberts Project, Ross Sea, Antarctica, Scientific Results of CRP-2/2A, Parts I and II. Vol. 7, Terra Antartica.
  38. Barrett, P. J., M. Massimo Sarti, and S. Wise, eds. 2000. Studies from the Cape Roberts Project, Ross Sea, Antarctica: Initial report on CRP-3. Vol. 7, Terra Antartica. Siena: Terra Antarctica Pub.
  39. Barrett, P.J. 2007. "Cenozoic climate and sea level history from glacimarine strata off the Victoria Land coast, Cape Roberts Project, Antarctica." In Glacial Sedimentary Processes and Products, edited by M.J. Hambrey, P. Christoffersen, N.F. Glasser and B. Hubbart, 259-287. Blackwell: International Association of Sedimentologists.
  40. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  41. Ballard, Grant; Jongsomjit, Dennis; Veloz, Samuel D.; Ainley, David G. (1 November 2012). "Coexistence of mesopredators in an intact polar ocean ecosystem: The basis for defining a Ross Sea marine protected area". Biological Conservation. 156: 72–82. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.11.017.
  42. (dead link) Archived 25 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  43. Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. "The Ross Sea" (PDF). The Ross Sea - Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. ASOC. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  44. "Ross Sea Species". Archived from the original on 17 December 2013.
  45. "Sub-Antarctic and Polar bird life". 23 April 2015. Archived from the original on 23 April 2015.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  46. "World's largest squid landed in NZ - Beehive (Govt of NZ)". 22 February 2007. Archived from the original on 23 May 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  47. "NZ fishermen land colossal squid - BBC News". 22 February 2007. Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  48. "Colossal squid's headache for science - BBC News". 15 March 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  49. "Size matters on 'squid row' (+photos, video) - The New Zealand Herald". 1 May 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  50. "Colossal squid's big eye revealed - BBC News". 30 April 2008. Archived from the original on 19 September 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  51. Marine Stewardship Council. "Ross Sea toothfish longline — Marine Stewardship Council". Archived from the original on 13 May 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  52. DeVries, Arthur L.; Ainley, David G.; Ballard, Grant. "Decline of the Antarctic toothfish and its predators in McMurdo Sound and the southern Ross Sea, and recommendations for restoration" (PDF). CCAMLR. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 January 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  53. "Ross descendant wants sea protected". 3 News NZ. 29 October 2012.
  54. "Peeping in on the Mile Deep Club | Hakai Magazine". Hakai Magazine. Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  55. Delegation of the United States. "A PROPOSAL FOR THE ROSS SEA REGION MARINE PROTECTED AREA" (PDF). Proposed Marine Protected Area in Antarctica's Ross Sea. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  56. "Antarctic Oceans Alliance". Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  57. New Scientist, No. 2926, 20 July, "Fight to preserve last pristine ecosystem fails"
  58. Mathiesen, Karl (31 October 2014). "Russia accused of blocking creation of vast Antarctic marine reserves". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 May 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  59. The Pew Charitable Trusts. "Pew: Nations Miss Historic Opportunity to Protect Antarctic Waters". Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  60. LeGuin, Ursula K. (1 February 1982). "Sur". The New Yorker: 38.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Ross Sea at Wikimedia Commons