Between austral late winter 1993 and austral autumn 1998, during five cruises aboard the research vessel
Nathaniel B. Palmer,almost 300 m of core was obtained from first-year ice floes in the Ross, Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas. Analysis of the texture, stratigraphy and stable-isotopic composition of the ice was used to assess the magnitude of the role of flooding and snow-ice formation at the base of the snowpack in the thickening of the ice cover and the thinning of the snow cover. Snow ice occurred in all ice-thickness categories and made a significant contribution to the total ice mass (12?36%) in both autumn and winter. Although the amount of snow ice was often exceeded by the amount of frazil ice and congelation ice, the thickness of individual layers of each ice type indicated that snow ice often made a greater contribution to the thermodynamic thickening of the ice cover than the other ice types. The larger quantities of frazil ice and congelation ice were primarily the result of dynamic thickening. Flooding and snow-ice formation reduced the snow cover to 42?70% of the total snow accumulation depending on time and location. On the basis of this information, ship-based snow-depth estimates were adjusted to estimate the total snow accumulation on different ice-thickness categories.