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Climate Variability & Change, Earth Surface & Interior, Water & Energy Cycles

Ice shelves play major roles in controlling the rate at which mass is lost from the grounded Antarctic ice sheet via ice streams and glaciers because they exert a back-pressure on the grounded ice. Ice shelf extent and thickness depend on the primary mass loss processes of iceberg calving and basal melting, which can change this back-pressure. We are interested in processes that cause mass loss in the Ice Shelf Frontal Zone (ISFZ), a swath several 10s of km wide along the ice front which experiences enhanced interaction with water from outside the sub-ice-shelf cavity. Our principal focus is on basal melting associated with ocean advective processes including tides and wind-forced currents. Our guiding hypotheses are: (1) basal melting in the ISFZ, and perhaps also small-scale iceberg calving, provide significant control on ice-shelf front location; and (2) response of the ISFZ to upper-ocean processes implies increased sensitivity of ice shelves to rapid climate variability. We will use ice-shelf elevation data from several satellites (ICESat-1, CryoSat-2, ERS-1 & ERS-2, and Envisat) to quantify recent basal melting in the ISFZs of the Filchner- Ronne and Amery ice shelves. We will run numerical ocean/ice models, validated against recent data, to explore how changing ice-shelf geometry in the ISFZ interacts with the ocean forcing to influence the time-dependent ice front location and ice-shelf thickness. The study directly addresses the research theme "Studies with ICESat and CryoSat-2", in the 2009 NASA ROSES call, by ensuring the continuity of ice-shelf elevation data sets from the ICESat to the CryoSat-2 era and beyond, and by using archived and new data in an innovative way to address a key factor (ice shelf structure and stability) controlling the response of the Antarctic ice sheet to changing climate. The project includes partial support for graduate and undergraduate students at two institutions.

Project PI: Laurence Padman/Earth & Space Research

3350 SW Cascada Ave,Corvallis ,OR 97333-1536,USA

Phone: (541) 753-6695

Fax: (541) 753-1999

Email: padman@esr.org

http://www.esr.org/esrmembers.html

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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011

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