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Antarctic Research Features

1 nature 20825 f114 February 2017:

A team led by Alberto C. Naviero Garabato have identified an important mechanism responsible for lateral export of meltwater at depth from an ice shelf. Using observations of the turbulent properties of the meltwater outflows from beneath a rapidly melting Antarctic ice shelf, the findings demonstrate that the mechanism is a dynamically robust feature of Antarctic melting. Current climate models use a simplified approximation resulting in ice shelf meltwater being delivered near the surface. A key uncertainty in assessing and predicting the impacts of Antarctic Ice Sheet melting concerns the vertical distribution of the exported meltwater. The authors propose the mechanism should be incorporated into the models as instability and accelerated melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheet are among the foremost elements of contemporary global climate change.

Alberto C. Naveira Garabato, Alexander Forryan, Pierre Dutrieux, Liam Brannigan, Louise C. Biddle, Karen J. Heywood, Adrian Jenkins, Yvonne L. Firing & Satoshi Kimura, “Vigorous lateral export of the meltwater outflow from beneath an Antarctic ice shelf”, Nature 542, 219–222 (09 February 2017). doi:10.1038/nature20825

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