Strong ice-ocean interaction beneath Shirase Glacier Tongue in East Antarctica

Mass loss from the Antarctic ice sheet, Earth’s largest freshwater reservoir, results directly in global sea-level rise and Southern Ocean freshening. Observational and modeling studies have demonstrated that ice shelf basal melting, resulting from the inflow of warm water onto the Antarctic continental shelf, plays a key role in the ice sheet’s mass balance. In recent decades, warm ocean-cryosphere interaction in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas has received a great deal of attention. However, except for Totten Ice Shelf, East Antarctic ice shelves typically have cold ice cavities with low basal melt rates. Here we present direct observational evidence of high basal melt rates (7–16 m yr−1) beneath an East Antarctic ice shelf, Shirase Glacier Tongue, driven by southward-flowing warm water guided by a deep continuous trough extending to the continental slope. The strength of the alongshore wind controls the thickness of the inflowing warm water layer and the rate of basal melting.


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Authors: Hirano, Daisuke, Tamura, Takeshi, Kusahara, Kazuya, Ohshima, Kay I., Nicholls, Keith W. ORCIDORCID record for Keith W. Nicholls, Ushio, Shuki, Simizu, Daisuke, Ono, Kazuya, Fujii, Masakazu, Nogi, Yoshifumi, Aoki, Shigeru

On this site: Keith Nicholls
24 August, 2020
Nature Communications / 11
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