Thermal responses to Antarctic ice shelf melt in an eddy rich global ocean–sea-ice model
Journal of Climate
The response near-Antarctic waters to freshening by increased glacial melt is investigated using a high resolution (0.1°) global ocean—sea-ice model with realistic Antarctic water-mass properties. Two meltwater perturbation experiments are conducted where the ocean model is forced with constant elevated glacial melt rates of 1.5× and 2.8× the control rate. Within 10 years of the onset of enhanced meltwater forcing, the generation of Antarctic Bottom Water from Dense Shelf Water ceases, as shelf
... waters become increasingly buoyant. Increased ocean stratification triggers subsurface warming in Dense ShelfWater source regions, suggesting a localized positive feedback to melt. In a parallel response, meltwater forcing enhances the subsurface lateral density gradients of the Antarctic Slope Front that modulate the transport of warm Circumpolar Deep Water across the continental slope towards ice shelf grounding lines. Consequently, coastal freshening acts to isolate the Antarctic Ice Sheet from open ocean heat, suggesting a cooling response to melt that counteracts warming associated with stratification. Further, these strengthening density gradients accelerate westward geostrophic currents along the coast and shelf break, homogenizing shelf waters and amplifying remote feedbacks. The net effect on the continental shelf is transient warming, followed by cooling in both experiments; however, this signal is the aggregate of a complex pattern of regional warming and cooling responses. These results suggest coastal freshening by meltwater may alter the thermal forcing of the Antarctic ice sheet in ways that both accelerate and inhibit ice shelf melt at different locations along the Antarctic coastline.