Winter seal-based observations reveal glacial meltwater surfacing in the southeastern Amundsen Sea

Zheng, Yixi, Heywood, Karen J., Webber, Benjamin G. M., Stevens, David P., Biddle, Louise C., Boehme, Lars and Loose, Brice (2021) Winter seal-based observations reveal glacial meltwater surfacing in the southeastern Amundsen Sea. Communications Earth & Environment, 2.

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Abstract

Determining the injection of glacial meltwater into polar oceans is crucial for quantifying the climate system response to ice sheet mass loss. However, meltwater is poorly observed and its pathways poorly known, especially in winter. Here we present winter meltwater distribution near Pine Island Glacier using data collected by tagged seals, revealing a highly variable meltwater distribution with two meltwater-rich layers in the upper 250 m and at around 450 m, connected by scattered meltwater-rich columns. We show that the hydrographic signature of meltwater is clearest in winter, when its presence can be unambiguously mapped. We argue that the buoyant meltwater provides near-surface heat that helps to maintain polynyas close to ice shelves. The meltwater feedback onto polynyas and air-sea heat fluxes demonstrates that although the processes determining the distribution of meltwater are small-scale, they are important to represent in Earth system models.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematics
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2021 01:12
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2021 00:17
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/78352
DOI: 10.1038/s43247-021-00111-z

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