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Dynamics of a barotropic current at an ice shelf front

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Getz Ice Shelf in West Antarctica receives more heat across the continental shelf than what is needed to produce the observed melt rates. Recent mooring observations suggest that 90% of the volume transport and 65% of the temperature transport toward the ice shelf is linked to the barotropic component of the current towards the ice shelf. It is unknown whether and how much of a barotropic current can penetrate into the cavity across the discontinuity in water column thickness.

I will present an idealized study with MITgcm, where we find that strong vertical velocities and friction allow the flow to partly enter the ice shelf cavity. Only a small fraction of the current penetrates deep into the cavity, while a strong current flows parallel to the ice shelf front, largely enhancing basal melt. How much of the barotropic current enters the cavity and how far it reaches depends on the ice shelf- and bedrock topography, as well as the stratification.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Polar Oceans seminar series series.

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