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  1. Abstract Pine Island Ice Shelf (PIIS) buttresses the Pine Island Glacier, the key contributor to sea-level rise. PIIS has thinned owing to ocean-driven melting, and its calving front has retreated, leading to buttressing loss. PIIS melting depends primarily on the thermocline variability in its front. Furthermore, local ocean circulation shifts adjust heat transport within Pine Island Bay (PIB), yet oceanic processes underlying the ice front retreat remain unclear. Here, we report a PIB double-gyre that moves with the PIIS calving front and hypothesise that it controls ocean heat input towards PIIS. Glacial melt generates cyclonic and anticyclonic gyres near and off PIIS, and meltwater outflows converge into the anticyclonic gyre with a deep-convex-downward thermocline. The double-gyre migrated eastward as the calving front retreated, placing the anticyclonic gyre over a shallow seafloor ridge, reducing the ocean heat input towards PIIS. Reconfigurations of meltwater-driven gyres associated with moving ice boundaries might be crucial in modulating ocean heat delivery to glacial ice.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Understanding the recent history of Thwaites Glacier, and the processes controlling its ongoing retreat, is key to projecting Antarctic contributions to future sea-level rise. Of particular concern is how the glacier grounding zone might evolve over coming decades where it is stabilized by sea-floor bathymetric highs. Here we use geophysical data from an autonomous underwater vehicle deployed at the Thwaites Glacier ice front, to document the ocean-floor imprint of past retreat from a sea-bed promontory. We show patterns of back-stepping sedimentary ridges formed daily by a mechanism of tidal lifting and settling at the grounding line at a time when Thwaites Glacier was more advanced than it is today. Over a duration of 5.5 months, Thwaites grounding zone retreated at a rate of >2.1 km per year—twice the rate observed by satellite at the fastest retreating part of the grounding zone between 2011 and 2019. Our results suggest that sustained pulses of rapid retreat have occurred at Thwaites Glacier in the past two centuries. Similar rapid retreat pulses are likely to occur in the near future when the grounding zone migrates back off stabilizing high points on the sea floor.

  3. Abstract

    Determining the injection of glacial meltwater into polar oceans is crucial for quantifying the climate system response to ice sheet mass loss. However, meltwater is poorly observed and its pathways poorly known, especially in winter. Here we present winter meltwater distribution near Pine Island Glacier using data collected by tagged seals, revealing a highly variable meltwater distribution with two meltwater-rich layers in the upper 250 m and at around 450 m, connected by scattered meltwater-rich columns. We show that the hydrographic signature of meltwater is clearest in winter, when its presence can be unambiguously mapped. We argue that the buoyant meltwater provides near-surface heat that helps to maintain polynyas close to ice shelves. The meltwater feedback onto polynyas and air-sea heat fluxes demonstrates that although the processes determining the distribution of meltwater are small-scale, they are important to represent in Earth system models.

  4. Abstract. The science guiding the EUREC4A campaign and its measurements is presented. EUREC4A comprised roughly 5 weeks of measurements in the downstream winter trades of the North Atlantic – eastward and southeastward of Barbados. Through its ability to characterize processes operating across a wide range of scales, EUREC4A marked a turning point in our ability to observationally study factors influencing clouds in the trades, how they will respond to warming, and their link to other components of the earth system, such as upper-ocean processes or the life cycle of particulate matter. This characterization was made possible by thousands (2500) of sondes distributed to measure circulations on meso- (200 km) and larger (500 km) scales, roughly 400 h of flight time by four heavily instrumented research aircraft; four global-class research vessels; an advanced ground-based cloud observatory; scores of autonomous observing platforms operating in the upper ocean (nearly 10 000 profiles), lower atmosphere (continuous profiling), and along the air–sea interface; a network of water stable isotopologue measurements; targeted tasking of satellite remote sensing; and modeling with a new generation of weather and climate models. In addition to providing an outline of the novel measurements and their composition into a unified and coordinated campaign, the six distinct scientificmore »facets that EUREC4A explored – from North Brazil Current rings to turbulence-induced clustering of cloud droplets and its influence on warm-rain formation – are presented along with an overview of EUREC4A's outreach activities, environmental impact, and guidelines for scientific practice. Track data for all platforms are standardized and accessible at https://doi.org/10.25326/165 (Stevens, 2021), and a film documenting the campaign is provided as a video supplement.« less