Skip to Content | Contact

Oceanic heat flux, on-shelf flow and basal melting of the Totten Glacier, East Antarctica

Oceanic heat flux, on-shelf flow and basal melting of the Totten Glacier, East Antarctica
David E. Gwyther

Authors

David E. Gwyther
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 129, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 80, Hobart, Tasmania 7001

Ben Galton-Fenzi
Australian Antarctic Division, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 80, Hobart, Tasmania 7001

John Hunter
Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 80, Hobart, Tasmania 7001
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 129, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia

Jason Roberts
Australian Antarctic Division, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 80, Hobart, Tasmania 7001

Abstract

The Totten glacier and ice stream drains a large proportion of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, much of it grounded below sea level and susceptible to rapid mass loss. Increased basal melting reduces the buttressing effect of the ice shelf, leading to accelerated glacial flow and thinning. The state of the grounded ice sheet is therefore susceptible to changes in ocean heat flux and circulation. The Totten glacier has recently been observed to be thinning (at 1.9 m/yr). It is believed that the change exhibited by the Totten glacier is from changes in oceanic forcing - but the details, extent and magnitude of the interaction is unknown. Here we present a model, based on the Regional Ocean Modelling System, that has been developed to simulate the interaction between the Totten ice shelf and the ocean, with the aim of pinpointing causal factors of basal melting. Publicly available bathymetry and ice thickness datasets provide the geometry while the model is forced by currents, tides, buoyancy fluxes and wind on the surface and lateral boundaries. Analysis of model output shows basal melt rates in agreement with glaciological estimates. Ocean currents simulated by the model supply significant heat across the continental shelf break and into the topographic basin in front of the ice shelf. Therefore this study links basal melt of the Totten ice shelf to ocean heat transport. This is the first such modelling study of this region, and will provide valuable information for directing future observational missions.

Latest news

  • Conference prize winners
    27 Jun 2013

    The Strategic Science in Antarctica conference concluded yesterday and two days of workshops have commenced. Congratulations to those who were awarded prizes for their contributions to the conference.

  • Watch the welcome message from Australia's Environment Minister
    24 Jun 2013

    In a welcome message via video from Canberra, Australia’s Environment Minister, Tony Burke, reflected on the foresight of earlier decision-makers who agreed to set aside an entire continent for scientific research.

  • Last minute information for attendees
    20 Jun 2013

    There's not too long to wait until the start of the Strategic Science in Antarctica conference, and we hope you’re as excited as we are! Read on for more information about the final program, registration, Twitter, presenters, posters and social functions.

More news…

Key dates

  • 11th June 2013
    Registrations close
  • 21st June 2013
    Registrations at the AAD open for staff
  • 24th June 2013
    Registrations at the venue open
  • 24th June 2013
    Conference commences
  • 26th June 2013
    Conference concludes

More key dates…

This page was last modified on 24 September 2013.