Accession Number:



Concept for Artificial Freezing of Sea Ice at Winter Quarters Bay, Antarctica

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

Corporate Author:

U.S. Engineer Research and Development Center Hanover United States

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



McMurdo Station serves as a major research and logistics hub for the United States Antarctic Program USAP. Adjacent to the Station is Winter Quarters Bay WQB, where vessels dock to unload cargo and fuel. The ice pier at McMurdo is essential for this annual vessel resupply but represents a failure potential, occasionally breaking up during or immediately after vessel operations. This study aimed to determine the feasibility of using thermopiles, a passive cooling technology, to artificially freeze seawater to grow the existing WQB bottomfast-ice edge so that ships can dock directly against it. Finite element simulations using modeling-parameter assumptions indicate that each row of thermopiles can grow a frozen wall to a depth of 9 m in about a month if installed on 1 July with an initial sea-ice thickness of 1 m and a thermopile spacing of 1.5 m. For our simulation scenarios, we approximate that it would take 255 to 820 days to complete a 40 m by 140 m wedge of bottomfast ice. The estimated cost ranges from about 600,000 to 1,600,000. These results serve as a preliminary feasibility study of successfully using thermopiles for generating a direct docking bottomfast-ice wharf at McMurdo.

Subject Categories:

  • Snow, Ice and Permafrost

Distribution Statement: