The Recent Advance of the Ross Ice Shelf Antarctica

S. S. Jacobs, D. R. Macayeal, J. L. Ardai
1986 Journal of Glaciology  
The seaward edge of the Ross Ice Shelf advanced northward at a minimum average velocity of 0.8 km a–1 between 1962 and 1985. That advance approximated velocities that have been obtained from glaciological data, indicating little recent wastage by iceberg calving. West of long. 178° E., the ice shelf has attained its most northerly position in the past 145 years, and has not experienced a major calving episode for at least 75 years. Since 1841 the ice-front position has advanced and retreated
more » ... ed and retreated within a zone from about lat. 77° 10'S. (near long. 171° E.) to lat. 78° 40' S. (near long. 164° W.). The central ice front is now farthest south but has the highest advance rate. Calving may occur at more frequent intervals in that sector, which also overlies the warmest ocean currents that flow into the sub-ice-shelf cavity. Available information on ice-shelf advance, thickness, spreading rate, and surface accumulation indicates a basal melting rate around 3 m a–1 near the ice front. These data and independent estimates imply that basal melting is nearly as large a factor as iceberg calving in maintaining the ice-shelf mass balance. In recent years, the Ross, Ronne, and Filchner Ice Shelves have contributed few icebergs to the Southern Ocean, while projections from a contemporaneous iceberg census are that circumpolar calving alone may exceed accumulation on the ice sheet. Large-scale ice-shelf calving may have preceded historical sightings of increased numbers of icebergs at sea.
doi:10.3189/s0022143000012181 fatcat:vcfbb4u6uvcy3lnubuudnrp3my