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The Ross Sea

This image shows a rare clear view of the South Pole (lower right) and the Ross Sea, Antarctica. The Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) acquired the scene on December 26, 2001. (Photo: NASA, SeaWIFS-Project)

Ross Sea is located in southern Antarctica in the New Zealand sector. The shelf sea is enclosed by Marie-Byrd-Land and South-Victoria Land. In 1841, Sir James Clark Ross, a British navigator and explorer, discovered the Ross Sea, Ross Ice Shelf and Ross Island. Ross Island with Mount Erebus, an active volcano, is located in the western part of the sea, while Roosevelt Island is more sited to the East.


The vast Ross ice-shelf permanently covers the inner part of the sea and cuts far into the Antarctic continent. Ice shelves are permanent floating ice sheets that are attached to land and are constantly fed by terrestrial glaciers. The Ross Ice Shelf is covering an area comparable to the size of France. The ice cliffs at the water edge are about 70 meters high. Huge icebergs calve from the seaside of the Ross ice shelf. McMurdo Sound, located in the western part of Ross Sea, is usually free of pack ice in late summer. This site has been the most important staging point for exploration and scientific investigation of Antarctica.


The Ross Sea ocean-gyre features a pronounced single cell, clockwise flow structure, which is caused by the deflection of the Antarctic Coastal Current as it meets the western side of the Ross Sea embayment. The Gyre extends from the surface to the deep ocean, and is approximately one half to one third as strong as the Weddell Gyre.


Most common marine species in the Ross Sea is the crabeater seal, particularly young ones, coming from the south into the Ross Sea and McMurdo Sound during summer. The crabeater seal is the most abundant seal in the World, with a population between fifteen and forty million animals. This number represents more than all other global seal populations put together. Further marine species are fish, kalmare, jellyfish and others.



Main islands and island groups

Ross Island, Black- and White Islands, Franklin Island, Beaufort Island, Coulman Island, Roosevelt Island.



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