PROJECT 3: Ice Shelves

Ice shelves buttress the Antarctic Ice Sheet, providing a force that resists the flow of ice from the continent to the ocean. Understanding the sensitivity of ice shelves to changes in ocean, sea ice and atmosphere is therefore critical to assess the Antarctic contribution to future sea level rise. The AAPP will deliver new insights into the processes that cause ice shelves to lose mass (iceberg calving and basal melt by the ocean) and their sensitivity to changes in climate forcing.

The key science questions for this project are:

  • How susceptible are East Antarctic ice shelves to changes in climate forcing, from both the ocean and atmosphere?
  • What is the ocean-driven and cryosphere-driven mass loss from East Antarctic ice shelves?
  • How do dynamical processes in ice shelves, such as calving and fracturing, ice flow and firn compaction, influence ice-shelf thickness and buttressing?
  • When will changes in ice-shelf mass budget due to long-term climate forcing clearly exceed the variability in the system?