Modeling the formation and deposition of frazil ice beneath Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf
Large areas of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf are underlain by layers of marine ice, which form when supercooled seawater circulating beneath the ice shelf freezes. The freezing process initially produces a suspension of disc-shaped frazil ice crystals, and these are subs quently deposited onto the ice shelf base in areas where the flow of water is slack enough. This has been modeled assuming that the freezing takes place within buoyant plumes of Ice Shelf Water ascending the ice shelf base from source regions near the grounding lines of the major inlet glaciers. The deposition of the majority of the suspended frazil ice is found to occur in spatially discrete bursts, where peak rates of accumulation at the ice shelf base exceed 1 m yr−1 of solid ice. There is a good correlation between the location of the zones of crystal deposition and the position of the upstream limits of the marine ice layers. The high rates of localized accumulation account for the rapid buildup observed in the layer thickness, which then gradually declines as the marine ice is carried downstream with the flow of the ice shelf. Model results also suggest an origin for the ice platelets observed at depth in the water column near the Filchner Ice Shelf.