How Accurately Should We Model Ice Shelf Melt Rates?

D. N. Goldberg*, N. Gourmelen, S. Kimura, R. Millan, K. Snow

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    46 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Assessment of ocean-forced ice sheet loss requires that ocean models be able to represent sub-ice shelf melt rates. However, spatial accuracy of modeled melt is not well investigated, and neither is the level of accuracy required to assess ice sheet loss. Focusing on a fast-thinning region of West Antarctica, we calculate spatially resolved ice-shelf melt from satellite altimetry and compare against results from an ocean model with varying representations of cavity geometry and ocean physics. Then, we use an ice-flow model to assess the impact of the results on grounded ice. We find that a number of factors influence model-data agreement of melt rates, with bathymetry being the leading factor; but this agreement is only important in isolated regions under the ice shelves, such as shear margins and grounding lines. To improve ice sheet forecasts, both modeling and observations of ice-ocean interactions must be improved in these critical regions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)189-199
    Number of pages11
    JournalGeophysical Research Letters
    Volume46
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2019

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