The Filchner Trough / Filchner Ice Shelf cavity system

Hartmut.Hellmer [ at ]


Since austral summer 2013/14 AWI maintains a mooring array on the eastern slope of Filchner Trough at 76°S to monitor any flow of warm waters of open ocean origin towards the Filchner Ice Shelf (FIS) cavity. During the austral summers 2015/16 and 2016/17, seven oceanographic moorings were deployed beneath FIS through hot-water-drilled access holes to investigate and monitor the processes controlling the supply of ocean heat to the ice shelf base. This data, transferred to AWI via satellite link, shows that two ‘regimes’ exist beneath FIS. Dense High Salinity Shelf Water (HSSW), formed in front of the Ronne Ice Shelf, dominates the southern cavity and exits as Ice Shelf Water (ISW) the cavity along the western flank of the Filchner Trough. Less dense HSSW with a local origin in front of FIS enters the cavity on the eastern side of the Filchner Trough during parts of the year but seems to be trapped at depth, interacting laterally with derivatives of the Ronne-sourced HSSW. No evidence exists that it penetrates to the deep southern FIS grounding line. At 76°S, the flow of warm waters towards FIS is seasonal, limited to late summer/early winter, being replaced by ISW for the rest of the year. The link of the two sub-ice shelf circulation regimes to different regions of dense water formation on the continental shelf, and its sensitivity to the inflow of warm waters need to be investigated further to reduce the uncertainty of estimates on the FIS mass balance for today and the future.

Item Type
Conference (Talk)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Research Networks
Publication Status
Event Details
27th International Polar Conference, 25 Mar 2018 - 29 Mar 2018, Rostock, Germany.
Eprint ID
Cite as
Hellmer, H. , Hattermann, T. , Ryan, S. , Janout, M. and Schröder, M. (2018): The Filchner Trough / Filchner Ice Shelf cavity system , 27th International Polar Conference, Rostock, Germany, 25 March 2018 - 29 March 2018 .

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