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Impact of increasing Antarctic ice-shelf melting on Southern Ocean hydrography

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Southern Ocean hydrography has undergone substantial changes in recent decades, concurrent with an increase in the rate of Antarctic ice-shelf melting (AISM). We investigate the impact of increasing AISM on hydrography through a twin numerical experiment, with and without AISM, using a global coupled sea-ice/ocean climate model. The difference between these simulations gives a qualitative understanding of the impact of increasing AISM on hydrography. It is found that increasing AISM tends to freshen the surface water, warm the intermediate and deep waters, and freshen and warm the bottom water in the Southern Ocean. Such effects are consistent with the recent observed trends, suggesting that increasing AISM is likely a significant contributor to the changes in the Southern Ocean. Our analyses indicate potential positive feedback between hydrography and AISM that would amplify the effect on both Southern Ocean hydrography and Antarctic ice-shelf loss caused by external factors such as changing Southern Hemisphere winds.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2012

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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