Ice shelf basal channel shape determines channelized ice-ocean interactions

Chen Cheng*, Adrian Jenkins, Paul R. Holland, Zhaomin Wang, Jihai Dong, Chengyan Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

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Growing evidence has confirmed the critical role played by basal channels beneath Antarctic ice shelves in both ice shelf stability and freshwater input to the surrounding ocean. Here we show, using a 3D ice shelf-ocean boundary current model, that deeper basal channels can lead to a significant amplification in channelized basal melting, meltwater channeling, and warming and salinization of the channel flow. All of these channelized quantities are also modulated by channel width, with the level of modulation determined by channel height. The explicit quantification of channelized basal melting and the meltwater transport in terms of channel cross-sectional shape is potentially beneficial for the evaluation of ice shelf mass balance and meltwater contribution to the nearshore oceanography. Complicated topographically controlled circulations are revealed to be responsible for the unique thermohaline structure inside deep channels. Our study emphasizes the need for improvement in observations of evolving basal channels and the hydrography inside them, as well as adjacent to the ice front where channelized meltwater emerges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2877
Number of pages14
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2024

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