Oceanographic observations from George VI Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula
Summer profiles of sea-water temperature, salinity and flow were obtained on George VI Ice Shelf near its northern ice front. At each depth, temperature salinity and density show little variation between sites. Their respective variation to 250 m depth confirms a linear temperature-salinity dependence. This is the first place in the world where observations confirm precisely the form of the T-S diagram predicted for fresh ice melting in sea-water. Both tidal and residual flow are small, except at the western margin of the ice front, where a strong outflow is concentrated immediately beneath the ice shelf. The observations lead to a simple circulation model for the ice-shelf regime. Warm Deep Water flows southwards into George VI Sound, replacing the colder water that spreads northwards in the surface outflow. Thermohaline exchanges beneath the ice shelf determine the salinity profile, which itself provides evidence of upwelling. Estimates can be made of the basal melt rate of the ice shelf. The rates vary from around 10 m a−1 at the ice front to an average value for the ice shelf of order 1 m a−1. The average value is consistent with earlier estimates from surveys of ice-shelf strain.