Earth Science

Tidal Meltdown

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Science  06 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5625, pp. 1477
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5625.1477b

Water that is produced by basal melting of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in Antactica is an important component of Antarctic Bottom Water. The rate of this melting has been estimated by oceanographic and by glaciologic methods, but these values disagree. Joughin and Padman used remote-sensing data to evaluate the spatial distribution of melt beneath the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf. They found that melt production is 2.5 to 5 times lower than previous glaciological estimates (but similar to existing oceanographic estimates) and that net melt production is dominated by melting at the front of the ice shelf, which is largely a result of tidal mixing. Furthermore, considerable melting occurs at the grounding line, yet much of that melt refreezes at the center of the shelf. These observations emphasize the need to take processes such as tides into account when modeling circulation beneath the ice shelf and when predicting the ice shelf response in future climate scenarios.—HJS

Geophys. Res. Lett. 30, 1477 (2003).

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