Mueller et al. 2018

Authors: Mueller, R.D., T. Hattermann, S.L. Howard, L. Padman

Year: 2018

Title: Tidal influences on a future evolution of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf cavity in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica.

Journal: The Cryosphere


Recent modeling studies of ocean circulation in the southern Weddell Sea, Antarctica, project an increase over this century of ocean heat into the cavity beneath Filchner–Ronne Ice Shelf (FRIS). This increase in ocean heat would lead to more basal melting and a modification of the FRIS ice draft. The corresponding change in cavity shape will affect advective pathways and the spatial distribution of tidal currents, which play important roles in basal melting under FRIS. These feedbacks between heat flux, basal melting, and tides will affect the evolution of FRIS under the influence of a changing climate. We explore these feedbacks with a three-dimensional ocean model of the southern Weddell Sea that is forced by thermodynamic exchange beneath the ice shelf and tides along the open boundaries. Our results show regionally dependent feedbacks that, in some areas, substantially modify the melt rates near the grounding lines of buttressed ice streams that flow into FRIS. These feedbacks are introduced by variations in meltwater production as well as the circulation of this meltwater within the FRIS cavity; they are influenced locally by sensitivity of tidal currents to water column thickness (wct) and non-locally by changes in circulation pathways that transport an integrated history of mixing and meltwater entrainment along flow paths. Our results highlight the importance of including explicit tidal forcing in models of future mass loss from FRIS and from the adjacent grounded ice sheet as individual ice-stream grounding zones experience different responses to warming of the ocean inflow.


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