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Ocean access to a cavity beneath Totten Glacier in East Antarctica


Greenbaum, JS and Blankenship, DD and Young, DA and Richter, TG and Roberts, JL and Aitken, ARA and Legresy, B and Schroeder, DM and Warner, RC and van Ommen, TD and Siegert, MJ, Ocean access to a cavity beneath Totten Glacier in East Antarctica, Nature Geoscience, 8, (4) pp. 294-298. ISSN 1752-0894 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Nature Publishing Group

DOI: doi:10.1038/ngeo2388


Totten Glacier, the primary outlet of the Aurora Subglacial Basin, has the largest thinning rate in East Antarctica. Thinning may be driven by enhanced basal melting due to ocean processes3, modulated by polynya activity. Warm modified Circumpolar Deep Water, which has been linked to glacier retreat in West Antarctica, has been observed in summer and winter on the nearby continental shelf beneath 400 to 500 m of cool Antarctic Surface Water. Here we derive the bathymetry of the sea floor in the region from gravity and magnetics data as well as ice-thickness measurements. We identify entrances to the ice-shelf cavity below depths of 400 to 500 m that could allow intrusions of warm water if the vertical structure of inflow is similar to nearby observations. Radar sounding reveals a previously unknown inland trough that connects the main ice-shelf cavity to the ocean. If thinning trends continue, a larger water body over the trough could potentially allow more warm water into the cavity, which may, eventually, lead to destabilization of the low-lying region between Totten Glacier and the similarly deep glacier flowing into the Reynolds Trough. We estimate that at least 3.5 m of eustatic sea level potential drains through Totten Glacier, so coastal processes in this area could have global consequences.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:modelling, Totten Glacier, ice shelf, East Antarctica
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:Roberts, JL (Dr Jason Roberts)
UTAS Author:Legresy, B (Dr Benoit Legresy)
UTAS Author:Warner, RC (Dr Roland Warner)
UTAS Author:van Ommen, TD (Dr Tas van Ommen)
ID Code:99498
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:113
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2015-03-25
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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