Explicit and parametrised representation of under ice shelf seas in a z* coordinate ocean model NEMO 3.6

Ice shelf/ocean interactions are a major source of fresh water on the Antarctic continental shelf and have a strong impact on ocean properties, ocean circulation and sea ice. However, climate models based on the ocean/sea ice model NEMO currently do not include these interactions in any detail. The capability of explicitly simulating the circulation beneath ice shelves is introduced in the non-linear free surface model NEMO. Its implementation into the NEMO framework and its assessment in an idealised and realistic circum-Antarctic configuration is described in this study. Compared with the current prescription of ice shelf melting (i.e. at the surface) inclusion of open sub-ice-shelf leads to a decrease sea ice thickness along the coast, a weakening of the ocean stratification on the shelf, a decrease in salinity of HSSW on the Ross and Weddell Sea shelves and an increase in the strength of the gyres that circulate within the over-deepened basins on the West Antarctic continental shelf. Mimicking the under ice shelf seas overturning circulation by introducing the meltwater over the depth range of the ice shelf base, rather than at the surface is also tested. It yields similar improvements in the simulated ocean properties and circulation over the Antarctic continental shelf than the explicit ice shelf cavity representation. With the ice shelf cavities opened, the widely-used “3 equations” ice shelf melting formulation enables an interactive computation of melting that has been assessed. Comparison with observational estimates of ice shelf melting indicates realistic results for most ice shelves. However, melting rates for Amery, Getz and George VI ice shelves are considerably overestimated.


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Authors: Mathiot, Pierre, Jenkins, Adrian ORCIDORCID record for Adrian Jenkins, Harris, Christopher, Madec, Gurvan

On this site: Adrian Jenkins, Pierre Mathiot
26 July, 2017
Geoscientific Model Development / 10
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