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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Brief communication 14 Nov 2018

Brief communication | 14 Nov 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Brief communication: PICOP, a new ocean melt parameterization under ice shelves combining PICO and a plume model

Tyler Pelle, Mathieu Morlighem, and Johannes H. Bondzio Tyler Pelle et al.
  • University of California, Irvine, Department of Earth System Science, Irvine, CA 92697-3100, USA

Abstract. Basal melt at the bottom of Antarctic ice shelves is a major control on glacier dynamics, as it modulates the amount of buttressing that floating ice shelves exert onto the ice streams feeding them. Three-dimensional ocean circulation numerical models provide reliable estimates of basal melt rates but remain too computationally expensive for century scale projections. Ice sheet modelers therefore routinely rely on simplified parameterizations either based on ice shelf depth or on more sophisticated box models. However, existing parameterizations do not accurately resolve the complex spatial patterns of sub-shelf melt rates that have been observed over Antarctica's ice shelves, especially in the vicinity of the grounding line, where basal melt is one of the primary drivers of grounding line migration. In this study, we couple the Potsdam Ice-shelf Cavity mOdel (PICO) to a buoyant Plume melt rate parameterization to create PICOP, a novel basal melt rate parameterization that is easy to implement in transient ice sheet numerical models and produces a melt rate field that is in excellent agreement with the spatial distribution and magnitude of observations for a wide variety of ocean basins. We test PICOP on the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica, Totten and Moscow University ice shelves in Eastern Antarctica, and the Ronne-Filchner ice shelf and compare the results to PICO. We find that PICOP is able to reproduce the high melt rates near the grounding lines of Pine Island, Thwaites, and Totten glaciers (on the order of 100 m/yr) and removes the “banding” pattern observed in melt rates produced by PICO over the Ronne-Filchner ice shelf. PICOP resolves many of the issues contemporary basal melt rate parameterizations face and is therefore a valuable tool for those looking to make future projections of Antarctic glaciers.

Tyler Pelle et al.
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Tyler Pelle et al.
Tyler Pelle et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
How ocean induced melt under floating ice shelves will change as ocean currents evolve remains a big uncertainty in projections of sea level rise. In this study, we combine two of the most recently developed melt models to form PICOP, which overcomes the limitations of past models and produces accurate ice shelf melt rates. We find that our model is easy to set up and computationally efficient, providing researchers an important tool to improve the accuracy of their future glacial projections.
How ocean induced melt under floating ice shelves will change as ocean currents evolve remains a...