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  1. Abstract

    Coupled ice sheet‐ocean models are beginning to be used to study the response of ice sheets to ocean warming. Initializing an ice‐ocean model is challenging and can introduce nonphysical transients, and the extent to which such transients can affect model projections is unclear. We use a synchronously‐coupled ice‐ocean model to investigate evolution of Pope, Smith and Kohler Glaciers, West Antarctica, over the next half‐century. Two methods of initialization are used: In one, the ice‐sheet model is constrained with observed velocities in its initial state; in another, the model is constrained with both velocities and grounded thinning rates over a 4‐year period. Each method is applied to two basal sliding laws. For each resulting initialization, two climate scenarios are considered: one where ocean conditions during the initialization period persist indefinitely, and one where the ocean is in a permanent “warm” state. At first, model runs initialized with thinning data exhibit volume loss rates much closer to observed values than those initialized with velocity only, but after 1–2 decades, the forcing primarily determines rates of volume loss and grounding line retreat. Such behavior is seen for both basal sliding laws, although volume loss rates differ quantitatively. Under the “warm” scenario, a grounding line retreat of ∼30 km is simulated for Smith and Kohler, although variation in total retreat due to initialization is nearly as large as that due to forcing. Furthermore it is questionable whether retreat will continue due to narrowing of submarine troughs and limiting of heat transport by bathymetric obstacles.

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  2. Abstract

    The Southern Ocean is chronically undersampled due to its remoteness, harsh environment, and sea ice cover. Ocean circulation models yield significant insight into key processes and to some extent obviate the dearth of data; however, they often underestimate surface mixed layer depth (MLD), with consequences for surface water‐column temperature, salinity, and nutrient concentration. In this study, a coupled circulation and sea ice model was implemented for the region adjacent to the West Antarctic Peninsula, a climatically sensitive region which has exhibited decadal trends towards higher ocean temperature, shorter sea ice season, and increasing glacial freshwater input, overlain by strong interannual variability. Hindcast simulations were conducted with different air‐ice drag coefficients and Langmuir circulation parameterizations to determine the impact of these factors on MLD. Including Langmuir circulation deepened the surface mixed layer, with the deepening being more pronounced in the shelf and slope regions. Optimal selection of an air‐ice drag coefficient also increased modeled MLD by similar amounts and had a larger impact in improving the reliability of the simulated MLD interannual variability. This study highlights the importance of sea ice volume and redistribution to correctly reproduce the physics of the underlying ocean, and the potential of appropriately parameterizing Langmuir circulation to help correct for biases towards shallow MLD in the Southern Ocean. The model also reproduces observed freshwater patterns in the West Antarctic Peninsula during late summer and suggests that areas of intense summertime sea ice melt can still show net annual freezing due to high sea ice formation during the winter.

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