University Of Tasmania
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Modeling Antarctic ice shelf responses to future climate changes and impacts on the ocean

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 19:48 authored by Kusahara, K, Hasumi, H
We investigate basal melting of all Antarctic ice shelves by a circumpolar ice shelf-sea ice-ocean coupled model and estimate the total basal melting of 770–944 Gt/yr under present-day climate conditions. We present a comparison of the basal melting with previous observational and modeling estimates for each ice shelf. Heat sources for basal melting are largely different among the ice shelves. Sensitivities of the basal melting to surface air warming and to enhanced westerly winds over the Antarctic Circumpolar Current are investigated from a series of numerical experiments. In this model the total basal melting strongly depends on the surface air warming but is hardly affected by the change of westerly winds. The magnitude of the basal melting response to the warming varies widely from one ice shelf to another. The largest response is found at ice shelves in the Bellingshausen Sea, followed by those in the Eastern Weddell Sea and the Indian sector. These increases of basal melting are caused by increases of Circumpolar Deep Water and/or Antarctic Surface Water into ice shelf cavities. By contrast, basal melting of ice shelves in the Ross and Weddell Seas is insensitive to the surface air warming, because even in the warming experiments there is high sea ice production at the front of the ice shelves that keeps the water temperature to the surface freezing point. Weakening of the thermohaline circulation driven by Antarctic dense water formation under warming climate conditions is enhanced by basal melting of ice shelves.


Publication title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2013 American Geophysical Union. Kusahara, K., Hasumi, H (2013), Modeling Antarctic ice shelf responses to future climate changes and impacts on the ocean, Journal of geophysical research: oceans, 118, 2454-2475, 10.1002/jgrc.20166. To view the published open abstract, go to

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Effects of climate change on Antarctic and sub-Antarctic environments (excl. social impacts)

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