Future Response of Antarctic Continental Shelf Temperatures to Ice Shelf Basal Melting and Calving

We investigate feedbacks between subsurface continental shelf ocean temperatures and Antarctic glacial melt using a coupled climate model. The model was forced with SSP5-8.5 and an uncoupled projection of basal melt and calving fluxes. SSP5-8.5 forcing with fixed pre-industrial glacial melt warms all continental shelves, such that historically “cool” and “fresh” shelves transition to “warm.” Additional glacial melt, added at depth, cools the Eastern Ross, Amundsen, and Bellingshausen seas, suggesting a negative feedback on basal melt—a novel result for a coarse resolution coupled model. From the Weddell Sea, along East Antarctica, and into the western Ross Sea—where continental shelves transition to a “warm” state—additional glacial melt increases temperatures at the continental shelf sea floor, suggesting a positive feedback. The sign of the glacial melt–subsurface temperature feedback is critically dependent on continental shelf properties, climate state, and the vertical distribution of glacial melt inputs.


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Authors: Thomas, Max, Ridley, Jeff K., Smith, Inga J., Stevens, David P., Holland, Paul R. ORCIDORCID record for Paul R. Holland, Mackie, Shona

On this site: Paul Holland
28 September, 2023
Geophysical Research Letters / 50
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