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Responses of basal melting of Antarctic ice shelves to the climatic forcing of the last glacial maximum and CO2 doubling

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 14:52 authored by Obase, T, Abe-Ouchi, A, Kusahara, K, Hasumi, H, Ohgaito, R
Basal melting of the Antarctic ice shelves is an important factor in determining the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet. This study used the climatic outputs of an atmosphere-ocean general circulation model to force a circumpolar ocean model that resolves ice shelf cavity circulation to investigate the response of Antarctic ice shelf melting to different climatic conditions (i.e., to a doubling of CO2 and to the Last Glacial Maximum conditions). Sensitivity experiments were also conducted to investigate the roles of both surface atmospheric change and changes of oceanic lateral boundary conditions. It was found that the rate of change of basal melt due to climate warming is much greater (by an order of magnitude) than that due to cooling. This is mainly because the intrusion of warm water onto the continental shelves, linked to sea ice production and climate change, is crucial in determining the basal melt rate of many ice shelves. Sensitivity experiments showed that changes of atmospheric heat flux and ocean temperature are both important for warm and cold climates. The offshore wind change, together with atmospheric heat flux change, strongly affected the production of both sea ice and high-density water, preventing warmer water approaching the ice shelves under a colder climate. These results reflect the importance of both water mass formation in the Antarctic shelf seas and subsurface ocean temperature in understanding the long-term response to climate change of the melting of Antarctic ice shelves.


Publication title

Journal of Climate










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Amer Meteorological Soc

Place of publication

45 Beacon St, Boston, USA, Ma, 02108-3693

Rights statement

© Copyright 2017 American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a website or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. All AMS journals and monograph publications are registered with the Copyright Clearance Center ( Questions about permission to use materials for which AMS holds the copyright can also be directed to Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy statement, available on the AMS website (

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

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

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