K. Nicholls: Observing the impact of the ocean on the Antarctic Ice Sheet

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This presentation is by Dr. Keith Nicholls from the British Antarctic Survey, UK.
Ice drains from the Antarctic Ice Sheet, via fast-flowing ice streams, into floating ice shelves that both melt at their base and calve icebergs into the ocean. We now know that reducing the extent of ice shelves causes ice streams to accelerate and drain more ice into the ocean, thereby raising sea level. To predict how ice shelves will respond to changes in ocean climate we need to run numerical models, which themselves need observations to improve and to validate them. An excellent diagnostic for such models is the rate at which ice shelves are melting at their base. An even better one is how the rate of ice-shelf melting changes in response to the ocean’s seasonality. I will discuss evidence of recent change in Antarctic ice shelves, the challenge of making the measurements necessary for prediction of future change, and a SOOS-endorsed programme, NECKLACE, to meet that challenge using a circumpolar network of novel ice-sounding radars.
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