Polar Biology

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 769–779 | Cite as

The influence of depth, site exposure and season on the intensity of iceberg scouring in nearshore Antarctic waters

  • Dan A. SmaleEmail author
  • David K. A. Barnes
  • Keiron P. P. Fraser
Original Paper


Ice scour disturbance has a significant effect on the physical and biological characteristics of polar benthos. A series of grids, each consisting of 25 markers, were deployed along depth transects and replicated at two contrasting study sites at Adelaide Island, West Antarctic Peninsula. Markers were surveyed and replaced every 3 months for 2 years in order to assess the frequency and intensity of iceberg impacts. Depth, site, season and year were all highly significant factors influencing ice scouring frequency. We observed a high variation in the duration of winter fast ice between sites and years, which had a marked effect on ice scouring frequency. The ecological effects of the disturbance regime are likely to include depth zonation of benthic assemblages, patchiness of communities at varying stages of recovery and the near denudation of sessile fauna in the shallow subtidal.


Ice Disturbance Benthos Mortality Scour 



The authors acknowledge the essential work of Kirsty Brown concerning the development of the field technique. We thank Pete Rothery for statistical advice. We are grateful to all the members of the 2004 and 2005 marine teams at Rothera Research Station, but particularly for the hard work of the Dive Officers (John Withers and Matt Brown) during this project. Finally, we thank M. C. Gambi and two anonymous referees for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dan A. Smale
    • 1
    Email author
  • David K. A. Barnes
    • 1
  • Keiron P. P. Fraser
    • 1
  1. 1.British Antarctic SurveyNatural Environment Research CouncilCambridgeUK

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