Centuries of intense surface melt on Larsen C Ice Shelf

Suzanne Bevan, Adrian J. Luckman, Bryn Hubbard, Bernd Kulessa, David Ashmore, Peter Kuipers Munneke, Martin O'Leary, Adam P. Booth, Heidi Sevestre, Daniel McGrath

Allbwn ymchwil: Papur gweithioPapur trafod

128 Wedi eu Llwytho i Lawr (Pure)


Following a southward progression of ice-shelf disintegration along the Antarctic Peninsula, Larsen C Ice Shelf is the focus of ongoing investigation regarding its future stability. The ice shelf is known to be experience surface melt, and commonly features surface meltwater ponds. Here, we use a flowline model and a firn density model to date and interpret observations of melt-affected ice layers found within five 90 m boreholes distributed across the ice shelf. We find that units of ice within the boreholes, which have densities exceeding those expected under normal compaction metamorphism, correspond to two climatic warm periods within the last 300 years on the Antarctic Peninsula. The more recent warm period, from the 1960s onwards, has generated distinct sections of dense ice in two boreholes in Cabinet Inlet, close to the Antarctic Peninsula mountains – a region currently affected by föhn winds. Previous work has classified these layers as refrozen pond ice, requiring large quantities of mobile liquid water to form. Our flowline model shows that, whilst preconditioning of the ice began in the late 1960s, it was probably not until the early 1990s that twentieth-century ponding began. The earlier warm period occurred during the 18th century and resulted in two additional sections of anomalously dense ice deep within the boreholes. The first, in one of the Cabinet Inlet boreholes, consists of ice characteristic of refrozen ponds and must have formed in an area currently featuring ponding. The second, in a mid-shelf borehole, formed at the same time in an area which now experiences significant annual melt. Further south on the shelf, the boreholes sample ice that is of an equivalent age but which does not exhibit the same degree of melt influence. This west–east and north–south gradient in past melt distribution resembles current spatial patterns of surface melt intensity. Using flowlines to trace the advection and submergence of continental ice identified in boreholes, we demonstrate that, even by the time the ice reaches the calving front, only the upper 40 to 50 % of the shelf is composed of meteoric ice accumulated on the shelf. This vertical composition implies that basal crevasses must be confined within continental and/or basally accreted ice, and therefore will be unaffected by current climate-induced firn compaction
Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
Dynodwyr Gwrthrych Digidol (DOIs)
StatwsCyhoeddwyd - 30 Mai 2017

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