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Friday, June 14, 2013

E. Rignot et al., Ice Shelf Melting around Antarctica, Science, June 13, 2013

Science (13 June 2013); DOI:10.1126/science.

Ice Shelf Melting Around Antarctica

E. Rignot1,2,*, S. Jacobs3, J. Mouginot1 and B. Scheuchl1  
1Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, U.S.A
2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA 91109, U.S.A
3Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, U.S.A. 


We compare the volume flux divergence of Antarctic ice shelves in 2007–2008 with 1979–2010 surface accumulation and 2003–2008 thinning to determine their rates of melting and mass balance. Basal melt of 1,325 ± 235 gigatons per year (Gt/year) exceeds a calving flux of 1,089 ± 139 Gt/year, making ice shelf melting the largest ablation process in Antarctica. The giant cold-cavity Ross, Filchner, and Ronne ice shelves covering two-thirds of the total ice shelf area account for only 15% of net melting. Half of the meltwater comes from 10 small, warm-cavity southeast Pacific ice shelves occupying 8% of the area. A similar high melt/area ratio is found for six East Antarctic ice shelves, implying undocumented strong ocean thermal forcing on their deep grounding lines.&nbsp

Received for publication 29 January 2013. Accepted for publication 31 May 2013.

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