Southern Ocean warming: Increase in basal melting and grounded ice loss

Hartmut.Hellmer [ at ]


We apply a global finite element sea ice/ice shelf/ocean model (FESOM) to the Antarctic marginal seas to analyze projections of ice shelf basal melting in a warmer climate. The model is forced with the atmospheric output from two climate models: (1) the Hadley Centre Climate Model (HadCM3) and (2) Max Planck Institute’s ECHAM5/MPI-OM. Results from their 20th-century simulations are used to evaluate the modeled present-day ocean state. Sea-ice coverage is largely realistic in both simulations. Modeled ice shelf basal melt rates compare well with observations in both cases, but are consistently smaller for ECHAM5/MPI-OM. Projections for future ice shelf basal melting are computed using atmospheric output for IPCC scenarios E1 and A1B. While trends in sea ice coverage, ocean heat content, and ice shelf basal melting are small in simulations forced with ECHAM5 data, a substantial shift towards a warmer regime is found in experiments forced with HadCM3 output. A strong sensitivity of basal melting to increased ocean temperatures is found for the ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea. For the cold-water ice shelves in the Ross and Weddell Seas,decreasing convection on the continental shelf in the HadCM3 scenarios leads to an erosion of the continental slope front and to warm water of open ocean origin entering the continental shelf. As this water reaches deep into the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf (FRIS) cavity, basal melting increases by a factor of three to six compared to the present value of about 100 Gt/yr. Highest melt rates at the deep FRIS grounding line causes a retreat of > 200km, equivalent to an land ice loss of 110 Gt/yr.

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27th FRISP Workshop, 01 Jan 2013 - 19 Jun 2013, Gregynog Hall, Powys, Wales.
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Hellmer, H. , Timmermann, R. and Determann, J. (2013): Southern Ocean warming: Increase in basal melting and grounded ice loss , 27th FRISP Workshop, Gregynog Hall, Powys, Wales, 2013 - 19 June 2013 .

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