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Distribution of water masses and meltwater on the continental shelf near the Totten and Moscow University ice shelves

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Silvano, A, Rintoul, SR ORCID: 0000-0002-7055-9876, Pena-Molino, B ORCID: 0000-0003-1587-1696 and Williams, GD ORCID: 0000-0003-1769-8356 2017 , 'Distribution of water masses and meltwater on the continental shelf near the Totten and Moscow University ice shelves' , Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, vol. 122, no. 3 , pp. 2050-2068 , doi: 10.1002/2016JC012115.

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Abstract

Warm waters flood the continental shelf of the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas in West Antarctica, driving rapid basal melt of ice shelves. In contrast, waters on the continental shelf in East Antarctica are cooler and ice shelves experience relatively low rates of basal melt. An exception is provided by the Totten and Moscow University ice shelves on the Sabrina Coast, where satellite-derived basal melt rates are comparable to West Antarctica. Recent oceanographic observations have revealed that relatively warm (∼−0.4°C) modified Circumpolar Deep Water (mCDW) enters the cavity beneath the Totten Ice Shelf through a 1100 m deep trough, delivering sufficient heat to drive rapid basal melt. Here we use observations from a recent summer survey to show that mCDW is widespread on the continental shelf of the Sabrina Coast, forming a warm (up to 0.3°C) and saline (34.5–34.6) bottom layer overlaid by cold (∼freezing point) and fresh (salinity ∼34.3) Winter Water. Dense Shelf Water is not observed. A 1000 deep m trough allows water at −1.3°C to reach the Moscow University ice-shelf cavity to drive basal melt. Freshening by addition of glacial meltwater is widespread on the southern shelf at depths above 300–400 m, with maximum meltwater concentrations up to 4–5 ml L−1 observed in outflows from the ice-shelf cavities. Our observations indicate that the ocean properties on the Sabrina Coast more resemble those found on the continental shelf of the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas than those typical of East Antarctica.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Silvano, A and Rintoul, SR and Pena-Molino, B and Williams, GD
Keywords: Antarctica, ice shelf, melting, warming, sea-level rise
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN: 2169-9275
DOI / ID Number: 10.1002/2016JC012115
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 American Geophysical Union

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