Ocean feedbacks to Antarctic ice melt

The melt rate of Antarctica’s marine-terminating ice sheets is controlled by heat delivered from the Southern Ocean to the Antarctic margins through fine-scale ocean processes. Antarctic ice melt raises global sea level and modifies the global overturning circulation due to the additional freshwater input. However, these processes are difficult to measure directly, and we do not have a good understanding of why some Antarctic coastal regions have warmed in recent decades, or what feedbacks may be important in the future.

We use numerical modelling to understand the oceanic processes which control delivery of heat to the Antarctic coastal region. Example projects include:

  1. Determining which local or remote forcing (e.g. changing winds, surface freshening) controls the warming of Antarctic waters.
  2. Quantifying the contribution of ocean processes that govern the fine-scale intrusion of warm water into the Antarctic coastal region, such as eddies, bottom flows and tides.
  3. Investigating large-scale feedbacks between Antarctic ice melt and the global overturning circulation.

This project is in collaboration with others in the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science.