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Ice Shelves

Climate Science for Australia's Future

Ice Shelves

Ice ShelfFloating ice shelves and glacier tongues, which fringe 44% of the Antarctic coastline, are that part of the ice sheet system most vulnerable to climate change.  They are in direct contact with the ocean, and sub-glacial ocean circulation directly couples them to the global climate system. Most of the Antarctic continental ice is discharged through ice shelves and glacier tongues and changes to the floating ice has the potential to change the flow in ice streams and outlet glaciers that drain mass from the interior of the ice sheet.

The rapid disintegration of several Antarctic ice shelves over recent decades has been attributed to combinations of atmospheric and oceanic influences, internal ice shelf dynamics and fracture and rift development. Uncertainty about how these changes at the ice margin affect the interior flow leads to significant uncertainty about future contributions of Antarctica to global sea-level.

Image (courtesy ESA): Cryosat-2 in Space

Cryosat 2 in spaceACE is developing improved models of sub-shelf ocean circulation, ice shelf-ocean interaction and the influence of changing ice shelves on grounding lines and ice stream dynamics.  This effort is focussed on the Amery Ice Shelf (70oS, 70oE) where there is a long record of Australian field measurements, excellent coverage by remote sensing satellites, and a unique multi-year record of changes and variability in the ocean cavity beneath the ice shelf from previous ACE programs of ice shelf drilling and deployment of ocean moorings.

Over the past decade the AMISOR project has conducted oceanographic and glaciological research on and around the Amery Ice Shelf, Prydz Bay, East Antarctica. Researchers from across Australia and the world are using the data and samples collected to study ice dynamics, ice-ocean interaction processes and ice sheet evolution.

Projects and project leaders

Ice-ocean interaction beneath ice shelves and its impacts: Dr John Hunter, Dr Roland Warner

AMery Ice Shelf Ocean Research (AMISOR) Workshop

From October 2-3, 2012, the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC will jointly be hosting a workshop to:

1.       Review a decade of research accomplishments, and

2.       Discuss future directions of the project and AMISOR related science.

We invite all scientists interested in AMISOR and AMISOR related science from ocean to geology and biology to contribute to the workshop.  We anticipate that people who won’t be able to come to Hobart will participate in the workshop via teleconferencing.

More information and details about the workshop and program are at http://amisorworkshop2012.weebly.com/.

To express your interest in the workshop and for further information please contact AMISOR2012@acecrc.org.au