Strong ice-ocean interaction beneath Shirase Glacier Tongue in East Antarctica
Mass loss from the Antarctic ice sheet, Earth’s largest freshwater reservoir, results directly in global sea-level rise and Southern Ocean freshening. Observational and modeling studies have demonstrated that ice shelf basal melting, resulting from the inflow of warm water onto the Antarctic continental shelf, plays a key role in the ice sheet’s mass balance. In recent decades, warm ocean-cryosphere interaction in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas has received a great deal of attention. However, except for Totten Ice Shelf, East Antarctic ice shelves typically have cold ice cavities with low basal melt rates. Here we present direct observational evidence of high basal melt rates (7–16 m yr−1) beneath an East Antarctic ice shelf, Shirase Glacier Tongue, driven by southward-flowing warm water guided by a deep continuous trough extending to the continental slope. The strength of the alongshore wind controls the thickness of the inflowing warm water layer and the rate of basal melting.
Publication titleNature Communications
Department/SchoolInstitute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
PublisherNature Publishing Group
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
Rights statement© 2021. The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.