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The impact of tides on Antarctic ice shelf melting


Richter, O and Gwyther, DE and King, MA and Galton-Fenzi, BK, The impact of tides on Antarctic ice shelf melting, The Cryosphere, 16 pp. 1409-1429. ISSN 1994-0416 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. (

DOI: doi:10.5194/tc-16-1409-2022


Tides influence basal melting of individual Antarctic ice shelves, but their net impact on Antarctic-wide ice–ocean interaction has yet to be constrained. Here we quantify the impact of tides on ice shelf melting and the continental shelf seas using a 4 km resolution circum-Antarctic ocean model. Activating tides in the model increases the total basal mass loss by 57 Gt yr−1 (4 %) while decreasing continental shelf temperatures by 0.04 C. The Ronne Ice Shelf features the highest increase in mass loss (44 Gt yr−1, 128 %), coinciding with strong residual currents and increasing temperatures on the adjacent continental shelf. In some large ice shelves tides strongly affect melting in regions where the ice thickness is of dynamic importance to grounded ice flow. Further, to explore the processes that cause variations in melting we apply dynamical–thermodynamical decomposition to the melt drivers in the boundary layer. In most regions, the impact of tidal currents on the turbulent exchange of heat and salt across the ice–ocean boundary layer has a strong contribution. In some regions, however, mechanisms driven by thermodynamic effects are equally or more important, including under the frontal parts of Ronne Ice Shelf. Our results support the importance of capturing tides for robust modelling of glacier systems and shelf seas, as well as motivate future studies to directly assess friction-based parameterizations for the pan-Antarctic domain.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ocean tides, ice melt
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:Richter, O (Mr Ole Richter)
UTAS Author:Gwyther, DE (Dr David Gwyther)
UTAS Author:King, MA (Professor Matt King)
UTAS Author:Galton-Fenzi, BK (Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi)
ID Code:149890
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2022-04-23
Last Modified:2023-01-23
Downloads:12 View Download Statistics

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