Subglacial discharge accelerates future retreat of Denman and Scott Glaciers, East Antarctica

Tyler Pelle*, Jamin S. Greenbaum, Christine F. Dow, Adrian Jenkins, Mathieu Morlighem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Ice shelf basal melting is the primary mechanism driving mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet, yet it is unknown how the localized melt enhancement from subglacial discharge will affect future Antarctic glacial retreat. We develop a parameterization of ice shelf basal melt that accounts for both ocean and subglacial discharge forcing and apply it in future projections of Denman and Scott Glaciers, East Antarctica, through 2300. In forward simulations, subglacial discharge accelerates the onset of retreat of these systems into the deepest continental trench on Earth by 25 years. During this retreat, Denman Glacier alone contributes 0.33 millimeters per year to global sea level rise, comparable to half of the contemporary sea level contribution of the entire Antarctic Ice Sheet. Our results stress the importance of resolving complex interactions between the ice, ocean, and subglacial environments in future Antarctic Ice Sheet projections.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadi9014
Number of pages12
JournalScience Advances
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2023

Cite this