Modelling present-day basal melt rates for Antarctic ice shelves using a parametrization of buoyant meltwater plumes

Lazeroms, Werner M. J.; Jenkins, Adrian; Gudmundsson, G. Hilmar; van de Wal, Roderik S. W.. 2018 Modelling present-day basal melt rates for Antarctic ice shelves using a parametrization of buoyant meltwater plumes. The Cryosphere, 12 (1). 49-70.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
Lazeroms.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (21MB) | Preview


Basal melting below ice shelves is a major factor in mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet, which can contribute significantly to possible future sea-level rise. Therefore, it is important to have an adequate description of the basal melt rates for use in ice-dynamical models. Most current ice models use rather simple parametrizations based on the local balance of heat between ice and ocean. In this work, however, we use a recently derived parametrization of the melt rates based on a buoyant meltwater plume travelling upward beneath an ice shelf. This plume parametrization combines a non-linear ocean temperature sensitivity with an inherent geometry dependence, which is mainly described by the grounding-line depth and the local slope of the iceshelf base. For the first time, this type of parametrization is evaluated on a two-dimensional grid covering the entire Antarctic continent. In order to apply the essentially onedimensional parametrization to realistic ice-shelf geometries, we present an algorithm that determines effective values for the grounding-line depth and basal slope in any point beneath an ice shelf. Furthermore, since detailed knowledge of temperatures and circulation patterns in the ice-shelf cavities is sparse or absent, we construct an effective ocean temperature field from observational data with the purpose of matching (area-averaged) melt rates from the model with observed present-day melt rates. Our results qualitatively replicate large-scale observed features in basal melt rates around Antarctica, not only in terms of average values, but also in terms of the spatial pattern, with high melt rates typically occurring near the grounding line. The plume parametrization and the effective temperature field presented here are therefore promising tools for future simulations of the Antarctic Ice Sheet requiring a more realistic oceanic forcing.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 1994-0424
Date made live: 16 Jan 2018 08:58 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...