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The effect of basal friction on melting and freezing in ice shelf–ocean models


Gwyther, DE and Galton-Fenzi, BK and Dinniman, MS and Roberts, JL and Hunter, JR, The effect of basal friction on melting and freezing in ice shelf-ocean models, Ocean Modelling, 95 pp. 38-52. ISSN 1463-5003 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ocemod.2015.09.004


The ocean is an important control on the mass budget of the Antarctic ice sheet, through basal melting and refreezing underneath the floating extensions of the ice sheet known as ice shelves. The effect of the ice surface roughness (basal roughness) on melting and refreezing is investigated with idealised ice shelf–ocean numerical simulations. Both "hot" ocean forcing (e.g. Pine Island Glacier; high basal melting) and "cold" ocean forcing (e.g. Amery Ice Shelf; low basal melting, stronger refreezing) environments are investigated. The interaction between the ocean and ice shelf is further explored by examining the contributions to melt from heat exchange across the ice–ocean interface and across the boundary layer–ocean interior, with a varying drag coefficient. Simulations show increasing drag strengthens melting. Refreezing increases with drag in the cold cavity environment, while in the hot cavity environment, refreezing is small in areal extent and decreases with drag. Furthermore, melting will likely be focussed where there are strong boundary layer currents, rather than at the deep grounding line. The magnitude of the thermal driving of the basal melt decreases with increasing drag, except for in cold cavity refreeze zones where it increases. The friction velocity, a function of the upper layer ocean velocity and the drag coefficient, monotonically increases with drag. We find friction-driven mixing into the boundary layer is important for representing the magnitude and distribution of refreezing and without this effect, refreezing is underestimated. Including a spatially- and temporally-varying basal roughness (that includes a more realistic, rougher refreezing drag coefficient) alters circulation patterns and heat and salt transport. This leads to increased refreezing, altered melt magnitude and distribution, and a pattern of altered vertical flow across the entire ice shelf. These results represent a summary of melting and freezing beneath ice shelves and strongly motivate the inclusion of appropriate vertical mixing schemes and basal roughness values that vary spatially and temporally in ocean models of ice shelf cavities.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ice shelf-ocean interaction, basal roughness, melt/freeze parameterisation, drag and friction, melt plume, Antarctic mass loss
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Physical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Antarctic and Southern Ocean oceanic processes
UTAS Author:Gwyther, DE (Dr David Gwyther)
UTAS Author:Galton-Fenzi, BK (Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi)
UTAS Author:Roberts, JL (Dr Jason Roberts)
UTAS Author:Hunter, JR (Dr John Hunter)
ID Code:103593
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:28
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2015-10-19
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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