The role of seafloor topography in the spatial variations of the southern ocean sea ice cover as observed (every other clay) by the Nimbus 7 scanning multichannel microwave radiometer satellite in the yews 1980, 1983, and 1984 is studied. Bottom bathymetry can affect sea ice surface characteristics because of the basically barotropic circulation of the ocean south of the Antarctic Circumpolar current. The main statistical tool used to quantify this effect is a local nonparametric regression model of sea ice concentration as a function of the depth and its first two derivatives in both meridional and zonal directions. First, we model the relationship of bathymetry to sea ice concentration in two study areas, one over the Maud Rise and the other over the Ross Sea shelf region. The multiple correlation coefficient is found to average 44% in the Maud Rise study area and 62% in the Ross Sea study area over the years 1980, 1983, and 1984. Second, a strategy of dividing the entire Antarctic region into an overlapping mosaic of small areas, or windows, is considered. Keeping the windows small reduces the correlation of bathymetry with other factors such as wind, sea temperature, and distance to the continent. We find that although the form of the model varies from window to window due to the changing role of other relevant environmental variables, we are left with a spatially consistent ordering of the relative importance of the topographic predictors. For a set of three representative days in the Austral winter of 1980, the analysis shows that an average of 54% of the spatial variation in sea ice concentration over the entire ice cover can be attributed to topographic variables. The results thus support the hypothesis that there is a sea ice to bottom bathymetry link. However, this should not undermine the considerable influence of wind, current, and temperature which affect the ice distribution directly and are partly responsible for the observed bathymetric effects.
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