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Impact of ocean forcing on the Aurora Basin in the 21st and 22nd centuries

  • S. Sun (a1), S. L. Cornford (a2), D. E. Gwyther (a3) (a4), R. M. Gladstone (a5), B. K. Galton-Fenzi (a4) (a6), L. Zhao (a1) and J. C. Moore (a1) (a7)...


The grounded ice in the Totten and Dalton glaciers is an essential component of the buttressing for the marine-based Aurora basin, and hence their stability is important to the future rate of mass loss from East Antarctica. Totten and Vanderford glaciers are joined by a deep east-west running subglacial trench between the continental ice sheet and Law Dome, while a shallower trench links the Totten and Dalton glaciers. All three glaciers flow into the ocean close to the Antarctic circle and experience ocean-driven ice shelf melt rates comparable with the Amundsen Sea Embayment. We investigate this combination of trenches and ice shelves with the BISICLES adaptive mesh ice-sheet model and ocean-forcing melt rates derived from two global climate models. We find that ice shelf ablation at a rate comparable with the present day is sufficient to cause widespread grounding line retreat in an east-west direction across Totten and Dalton glaciers, with projected future warming causing faster retreat. Meanwhile, southward retreat is limited by the shallower ocean facing slopes between the coast and the bulk of the Aurora sub-glacial trench. However the two climate models produce completely different future ice shelf basal melt rates in this region: HadCM3 drives increasing sub-ice shelf melting to ~2150, while ECHAM5 shows little or no increase in sub-ice shelf melting under the two greenhouse gas forcing scenarios.

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