Authors: K. Daae, T. Hattermann, E. Darelius, R. D. Mueller, K. A. Naughten, R. Timmermann, H. H. Hellmer

Year: 2020

Title: Necessary Conditions for Warm Inflow Towards the Filchner Ice Shelf, Weddell Sea

Journal: Geophysical Research Letters


The Weddell Sea continental shelf is presently filled with water masses that are too cold to melt the Filchner‐Ronne Ice Shelf from below. If warmer off‐shore water masses gain access to the Weddell Sea continental shelf and flow into the ice shelf cavity, the ocean‐driven melting would increase rapidly and cause ice shelf thinning. Increased ice shelf melting would supply the continental shelf with freshwater that influence sea ice production and generation of dense water masses, and cause an increased discharge of grounded ice, which would contribute to global sea level rise. Two main factors currently prevent warm water from accessing the Weddell Sea continental shelf. Firstly, the warm water is located deeper than the continental shelf and does not have direct access. Secondly, the Weddell Sea continental shelf is filled with dense water masses that block an inflow of warmer and lighter water. We use a regional ocean model to investigate what would happen if the warm off‐shore water is lifted higher up, or if the dense water masses become fresher and lighter. We find that the Weddell Sea system is robust, and we need to make extreme changes to both factors to allow warm water access to the continental shelf.


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