An updated seabed bathymetry beneath Larsen C Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula

Alex Brisbourne, Bernd Kulessa, Thomas Hudson, Lianne Harrison, Paul Holland, Adrian Luckman, Suzanne Bevan, David Ashmore, Bryn Hubbard, Emma Pearce, James White, Adam Booth, Keith Nicholls, Andrew Smith

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Abstract

In recent decades, rapid ice shelf disintegration along the Antarctic Peninsula has had a global impact through enhancing outlet glacier flow and hence sea level rise and the freshening of Antarctic Bottom Water. Ice shelf thinning due to basal melting results from the circulation of relatively warm water in the underlying ocean cavity. However, the effect of sub-shelf circulation on future ice shelf stability cannot be predicted accurately with computer simulations if the geometry of the ice shelf cavity is unknown. To address this deficit for Larsen C Ice Shelf, West Antarctica, we integrate new water column thickness measurements from recent seismic campaigns with existing observations. We present these new data here along with an updated bathymetry grid of the ocean cavity. Key findings include a relatively deep seabed to the southeast of the Kenyon Peninsula, along the grounding line and around the key ice shelf pinning-point of Bawden Ice Rise. In addition, we can confirm that the cavity's southern trough stretches from Mobiloil Inlet to the open ocean. These areas of deep seabed will influence ocean circulation and tidal mixing and will therefore affect the basal-melt distribution. These results will help constrain models of ice shelf cavity circulation with the aim of improving our understanding of sub-shelf processes and their potential influence on ice shelf stability.

The datasets are comprised of all the new point measurements of seabed depth. We present the new depth measurements here, as well as a compilation of previously published measurements. To demonstrate the improvements to the sub-shelf bathymetry map that these new data provide we include a gridded data product in the Supplement of this paper, derived using the additional measurements of both offshore seabed depth and the thickness of grounded ice.

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