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Ocean-driven thinning enhances iceberg calving and retreat of Antarctic ice shelves


Liu, Y and Moore, JC and Cheng, X and Gladstone, RM and Bassis, JN and Liu, H and Wen, J and Hui, F, Ocean-driven thinning enhances iceberg calving and retreat of Antarctic ice shelves, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112, (11) pp. 3263-3268. ISSN 0027-8424 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 PNAS

DOI: doi:10.1073/pnas.1415137112


Iceberg calving from all Antarctic ice shelves has never been directly measured, despite playing a crucial role in ice sheet mass balance. Rapid changes to iceberg calving naturally arise from the sporadic detachment of large tabular bergs but can also be triggered by climate forcing. Here we provide a direct empirical estimate of mass loss due to iceberg calving and melting from Antarctic ice shelves. We find that between 2005 and 2011, the total mass loss due to iceberg calving of 755 24 gigatonnes per year (Gt/y) is only half the total loss due to basal melt of 1516 106 Gt/y. However, we observe widespread retreat of ice shelves that are currently thinning. Net mass loss due to iceberg calving for these ice shelves (302 27 Gt/y) is comparable in magnitude to net mass loss due to basal melt (312 14 Gt/y). Moreover, we find that iceberg calving from these decaying ice shelves is dominated by frequent calving events, which are distinct from the less frequent detachment of isolated tabular icebergs associated with ice shelves in neutral or positive mass balance regimes. Our results suggest that thinning associated with ocean-driven increased basal melt can trigger increased iceberg calving, implying that iceberg calving may play an overlooked role in the demise of shrinking ice shelves, and is more sensitive to ocean forcing than expected from steady state calving estimates.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:iceberg calving, basal melt, mass balance, ice shelf, Antarctica
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Glaciology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Gladstone, RM (Dr Rupert Gladstone)
ID Code:99901
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:139
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2015-04-16
Last Modified:2017-10-30

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