Surface elevation changes at the front of the Ross Ice Shelf: Implications for basal melting

H. J. Horgan, R. T. Walker, S. Anandakrishnan, and R. B. Alley

Journal of Geophysical Research (1 February 2011)

DOI: 10.1029/2010JC006192

Rapid melting beneath the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS) occurs near the ice front, likely in response to a secondary buoyant plume with tidal mixing, and is sensitive to seasonal water temperatures in front of the ice shelf. The front of the RIS is examined using GLAS ICESat laser altimetry data. Spatial and temporal changes in surface elevations are attributed to enhanced basal melting of the ice shelf near the ice front. Melt rates (b) increase exponentially as the front is approached, from approximately zero at 40 km from the front to an average of 2.8 ± 1.0 m a−1 within the front kilometer. Melt estimates within the front 60 km are best fit by the relationship b = 2.0 × exp(−x/11900) m a−1, where x denotes distance from the front. Frontal melt totals approximately 16 km3 a−1 in the front 40 km, which accounts for between 10

keywords: cryosphere; melting; ice shelf; 0728 Ice shelves; 0776 Glaciology; 0762 Mass balance; 0758 Remote sensing; 1635 Oceans

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