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Channelized melting drives thinning under a rapidly melting Antarctic ice shelf

Gourmelen, Noel; Goldberg, Dan N.; Snow, Kate; Henley, Sian F.; Bingham, Robert G.; Kimura, Satoshi; Hogg, Anna E.; Shepherd, Andrew; Mouginot, Jeremie; Lenaerts, Jan T. M.; Ligtenberg, Stefan R. M.; van de Berg, Willem Jan. 2017 Channelized melting drives thinning under a rapidly melting Antarctic ice shelf. Geophysical Research Letters, 44 (19). 9796-9804. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL074929

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Abstract/Summary

Ice shelves play a vital role in regulating loss of grounded ice and in supplying freshwater to coastal seas. However, melt variability within ice shelves is poorly constrained and may be instrumental in driving ice shelf imbalance and collapse. High-resolution altimetry measurements from 2010 to 2016 show that Dotson Ice Shelf (DIS), West Antarctica, thins in response to basal melting focused along a single 5 km-wide and 60 km-long channel extending from the ice shelf's grounding zone to its calving front. If focused thinning continues at present rates, the channel will melt through, and the ice shelf collapse, within 40–50 years, almost two centuries before collapse is projected from the average thinning rate. Our findings provide evidence of basal melt-driven sub-ice shelf channel formation and its potential for accelerating the weakening of ice shelves.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL074929
ISSN: 00948276
Additional Keywords: ice shelves, basal melt, altimetry, thinning, collapse, sea level
Date made live: 18 Oct 2017 13:45 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/518096

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