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The impact of variable ocean temperatures on Totten Glacier stability and discharge


McCormack, FS and Roberts, JL and Gwyther, DE and Morlighem, M and Pelle, T and Galton-Fenzi, BK, The impact of variable ocean temperatures on Totten Glacier stability and discharge, Geophysical Research Letters, 48, (10) Article e2020GL091790. ISSN 0094-8276 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2021. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI: doi:10.1029/2020GL091790


A major uncertainty in Antarctica's contribution to future sea-level rise is the ice sheet response timescales to ocean warming. Totten Glacier drains a region containing 3.9m global sea level equivalent and has been losing mass over recent decades. We use an ice sheet model coupled to an ice-shelf cavity combined ocean box and plume model to investigate Totten's response to variable ocean forcing. Totten's grounding line is stable for a limited range of ocean temperatures near current observations (i.e., −0.95C to −0.75C), with topography influencing the discharge periodicity. For increases of ≥0.2C in temperatures beyond this range, grounding line retreat occurs. Variable ocean forcing can reduce retreat relative to constant forcing, and different variability amplitudes can cause centennial-scale delays in retreat through interactions with topography. Our results highlight the need for long-term ocean state observations and to include forcing variability in ice sheet model simulations of future change.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ocean temperatures, Totten Glacier, Antarctica, sea-level rise
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Glaciology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Effects of climate change on Antarctic and sub-Antarctic environments (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:McCormack, FS (Dr Felicity McCormack)
UTAS Author:Roberts, JL (Dr Jason Roberts)
UTAS Author:Galton-Fenzi, BK (Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi)
ID Code:151704
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2022-08-03
Last Modified:2022-09-07
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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