University Of Tasmania
133777 - Seasonality of Warm Water Intrusions Onto theContinental Shelf.pdf (3.99 MB)
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Seasonality of warm water intrusions onto the continental shelf near the Totten Glacier

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 05:26 authored by Silvano, A, Stephen Rintoul, Kusahara, K, Beatriz Pena-MolinoBeatriz Pena-Molino, van Wijk, E, David Gwyther, Guy Williams
Warm Modified Circumpolar Deep Water (MCDW) from the Southern Ocean drives rapid basal melt of the Totten Ice Shelf on the Sabrina Coast (East Antarctica), affecting the mass balance of the grounded Totten Glacier. Recent observations show that MCDW intrudes onto the continental shelf through a depression at the shelf break. Here we investigate such intrusions by combining (1) new oceanographic and bathymetric observations collected for two consecutive years by profiling floats in the depression south of the shelf break, (2) oceanographic measurements collected by conductivity‐temperature‐depth‐instrumented seals on continental slope, and (3) an ocean model. The depression provides a pathway for persistent inflow of warm (0‐1°C) MCDW to the inner shelf. In austral autumn and early winter MCDW intrusions were up to 0.5°C warmer and were are ~75 m thicker than in spring and summer. The seasonality of the flow on the continental slope explains the seasonality of the intrusions. The MCDW layer on the continental slope is warmer and thicker to the east of the depression than to the west. In autumn and early winter a strong, top‐to‐bottom westward current (Antarctic Slope Current) transports the warmer and thicker MCDW layer along the slope and is diverted poleward at the eastern entrance of the depression. A bottom‐intensified eastward current (Antarctic Slope Undercurrent) develops in other months, allowing cooler and thinner intrusions to enter the depression from the west. Our study illustrates how circulation on the Antarctic slope regulates the ocean heat delivery to the continental shelf and ultimately to the 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

©2019. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Antarctic and Southern Ocean oceanic processes; Climate variability (excl. social impacts)