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Ocean circulation beneath Larsen C Ice Shelf, Antarctica from in situ observations

Authors


Corresponding author: K. W. Nicholls, British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK. (kwni@bas.ac.uk)

Abstract

[1] Hot-water drilled access holes were used to obtain oceanographic data from beneath two sites on Larsen C Ice Shelf, one in the north and one in the south. At both sites the entire water column was colder than the surface freezing point, and the temperature-salinity characteristics are consistent with a High Salinity Shelf Water source of maximum salinity 34.65 psu. At the southern site the 0.08°C thermal driving at the ice base and the 0.2-m s−1 rms water speed resulted in a melt rate of 1.3 ± 0.2 m a−1, as measured over an eight-day period. When combined with the available ship-based data, the evidence suggests that the sub-ice cavity is flushed only by water at the surface freezing point. This implies that the reported decrease in surface elevation of Larsen C Ice Shelf is unlikely to be a result of thinning due to an increasing rate of basal melting.

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