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Volume 12, issue 9 | Copyright
The Cryosphere, 12, 3033-3044, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-3033-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 26 Sep 2018

Research article | 26 Sep 2018

Modeling the effect of Ross Ice Shelf melting on the Southern Ocean in quasi-equilibrium

Xiying Liu Xiying Liu
  • 1Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China
  • acurrently at: College of Oceanography, Hohai University, Nanjing, 210098, China

Abstract. To study the influence of basal melting of the Ross Ice Shelf (BMRIS) on the Southern Ocean (ocean southward of 35°S) in quasi-equilibrium, numerical experiments with and without the BMRIS effect were performed using a global ocean–sea ice–ice shelf coupled model. In both experiments, the model started from a state of quasi-equilibrium ocean and was integrated for 500 years forced by CORE (Coordinated Ocean-ice Reference Experiment) normal-year atmospheric fields. The simulation results of the last 100 years were analyzed. The melt rate averaged over the entire Ross Ice Shelf is 0.25ma−1, which is associated with a freshwater flux of 3.15mSv (1mSv = 103m3s−1). The extra freshwater flux decreases the salinity in the region from 1500m depth to the sea floor in the southern Pacific and Indian oceans, with a maximum difference of nearly 0.005PSU in the Pacific Ocean. Conversely, the effect of concurrent heat flux is mainly confined to the middle depth layer (approximately 1500 to 3000m). The decreased density due to the BMRIS effect, together with the influence of ocean topography, creates local differences in circulation in the Ross Sea and nearby waters. Through advection by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the flux difference from BMRIS gives rise to an increase of sea ice thickness and sea ice concentration in the Ross Sea adjacent to the coast and ocean water to the east. Warm advection and accumulation of warm water associated with differences in local circulation decrease sea ice concentration on the margins of sea ice cover adjacent to open water in the Ross Sea in September. The decreased water density weakens the subpolar cell as well as the lower cell in the global residual meridional overturning circulation (MOC). Moreover, we observe accompanying reduced southward meridional heat transport at most latitudes of the Southern Ocean.

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Numerical experiments have been performed to study the effect of basal melting of the Ross Ice Shelf on the ocean southward of 35° S. It is shown that the melt rate averaged over the entire Ross Ice Shelf is 0.253 m year-1, which is associated with a freshwater flux of 3150 m3 s-1. The extra freshwater flux decreases the salinity in the Southern Ocean substantially, leading to anomalies in circulation, sea ice, and heat transport in certain parts of the ocean.
Numerical experiments have been performed to study the effect of basal melting of the Ross Ice...
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