Validity of the Ice Shelf Water plume concept under Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf

In winter, brine rejection from sea ice formation and export in the Weddell Sea, offshore of Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf (FRIS), leads to the formation of High Salinity Shelf Water (HSSW). This dense water mass enters the cavity beneath FRIS by sinking southward down the sloping continental shelf towards the grounding line. Melting occurs when the HSSW encounters the ice shelf, and the meltwater released cools and freshens the HSSW to form a water mass known as Ice Shelf Water (ISW). If this ISW rises, the ‘ice pump’ is initiated (Lewis and Perkin, 1986), whereby the ascending ISW becomes supercooled and deposits marine ice at shallower locations due to the pressure increase in the in-situ freezing temperature. Sandh¨ager et al. (2004) were able to infer the thickness patterns of marine ice deposits at the base of FRIS (figure 1), so the primary aim of this work is to try to understand the ocean flows that determine these patterns. The plume model we use to investigate ISW flow is described fully by Holland and Feltham (accepted) so only a relatively brief outline is presented here. The plume is simulated by combining a parameterisation of ice shelf basal interaction and a multiplesize- class frazil dynamics model with an unsteady, depth-averaged reduced-gravity plume model. In the model an active region of ISW evolves above and within an expanse of stagnant ambient fluid, which is considered to be ice-free and has fixed profiles of temperature and salinity. The two main assumptions of the model are that there is a well-mixed layer underneath the ice shelf and that the ambient fluid outside the plume is stagnant with fixed properties. The topography of the ice shelf that the plume flows beneath is set to the FRIS ice shelf draft calculated by Sandh¨ager et al. (2004) masked with the grounding line from the Antarctic Digital Database (ADD Consortium, 2002). To initiate the plumes, we assume that the intrusion of dense HSSW initially causes melting at the points on the grounding line where the glaciological tributaries feeding FRIS go afloat.


Publication status:
Authors: Holland, P.R. ORCIDORCID record for P.R. Holland, Feltham, D.L., Jenkins, A. ORCIDORCID record for A. Jenkins

On this site: Adrian Jenkins, Paul Holland
1 January, 2007
Forum for Research into Ice Shelf Processes (FRISP). Report / 17