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  1. Abstract

    The Getz region of West Antarctica is losing ice at an increasing rate; however, the forcing mechanisms remain unclear. Here we use satellite observations and an ice sheet model to measure the change in ice speed and mass balance of the drainage basin over the last 25-years. Our results show a mean increase in speed of 23.8 % between 1994 and 2018, with three glaciers accelerating by over 44 %. Speedup across the Getz basin is linear, with speedup and thinning directly correlated confirming the presence of dynamic imbalance. Since 1994, 315 Gt of ice has been lost contributing 0.9 ± 0.6 mm global mean sea level, with increased loss since 2010 caused by a snowfall reduction. Overall, dynamic imbalance accounts for two thirds of the mass loss from this region of West Antarctica over the past 25-years, with a longer-term response to ocean forcing the likely driving mechanism.

  2. Abstract Antarctic glacial meltwater is thought to play an important role in determining large-scale Southern Ocean climate trends, yet recent modeling efforts have proceeded without a good understanding of how its vertical distribution in the water column is set. To rectify this, here we conduct new large-eddy simulations of the ascent of a buoyant meltwater plume after its escape from beneath an Antarctic ice shelf. We find that the meltwater’s settling depth is primarily a function of the buoyancy forcing per unit width of the source and the ambient stratification, consistent with the classical theory of turbulent buoyant plumes and in contrast to previous work that suggested an important role for centrifugal instability. Our results further highlight the significant role played by localized variability in stratification; this helps explain observed interannual variability in the vertical meltwater distribution near Pine Island Glacier. Because of the vast heterogeneity in mass loss rates and ambient conditions at different Antarctic ice shelves, a dynamic parameterization of meltwater settling depth may be crucial for accurately simulating high-latitude climate in a warming world; we discuss how this may be developed following this work, and where the remaining challenges lie.
  3. Abstract. Ocean-induced basal melting is directly and indirectly responsible for much of the Amundsen Sea Embayment ice loss in recent decades, but the total magnitude and spatiotemporal evolution of this melt is poorly constrained. To address this problem, we generated a record of high-resolution Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) for Pine Island Glacier (PIG) using commercial sub-meter satellite stereo imagery and integrated additional 2002–2015 DEM/altimetry data. We implemented a Lagrangian elevation change (Dh/Dt) framework to estimate ice shelf basal melt rates at 32–256-m resolution. We describe this methodology and consider basal melt rates and elevation change over the PIG shelf and lower catchment from 2008–2015. We document the evolution of Eulerian elevation change (dh/dt) and upstream propagation of thinning signals following the end of rapid grounding line retreat around 2010. Mean full-shelf basal melt rates for the 2008–2015 period were ~82–93 Gt/yr, with ~ 200–250 m/yr basal melt rates within large channels near the grounding line, ~ 10–30 m/yr over the main shelf, and ~ 0–10 m/yr over the North and South shelves, with the notable exception of a small area with rates of ~ 50–100 m/yr near the grounding line of a fast-flowing tributary on the South shelf. The observed basal melt rates show excellent agreement with, and providemore »context for, in situ basal melt rate observations. We also document the relative melt rates for km-scale basal channels and keels at different locations on the shelf and consider implications for ocean circulation and heat content. These methods and results offer new indirect observations of ice-ocean interaction and constraints on the processes driving sub-shelf melting beneath vulnerable ice shelves in West Antarctica.

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