Articles | Volume 13, issue 11
Research article
 | Highlight paper
05 Nov 2019
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 05 Nov 2019

Melt at grounding line controls observed and future retreat of Smith, Pope, and Kohler glaciers

David A. Lilien, Ian Joughin, Benjamin Smith, and Noel Gourmelen

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Cited articles

Assmann, K. M., Jenkins, A., Shoosmith, D. R., Walker, D. P., Jacobs, S. S., and Nicholls, K. W.: Variability of Circumpolar Deep Water transport onto the Amundsen Sea Continental shelf through a shelf break trough, J. Geophys. Res.-Ocean, 118, 6603–6620,, 2013. 
Borstad, C., Khazendar, A., Scheuchl, B., Morlighem, M., Larour, E., and Rignot, E.: A constitutive framework for predicting weakening and reduced buttressing of ice shelves based on observations of the progressive deterioration of the remnant Larsen B ice shelf, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 2027–2035,, 2016. 
Borstad, C. P., Rignot, E., Mouginot, J., and Schodlok, M. P.: Creep deformation and buttressing capacity of damaged ice shelves: theory and application to Larsen C ice shelf, The Cryosphere, 7, 1931–1947,, 2013. 
Cuffey, K. M. and Paterson, W. S. B.: The physics of glaciers, Academic Press, Amsterdam, 97, 2010. 
De Rydt, J. and Gudmundsson, G. H.: Coupled ice shelf-ocean modeling and complex grounding line retreat from a seabed ridge, J. Geophys. Res.-Earth Surf., 121, 865–880,, 2016. 
Short summary
We used a number of computer simulations to understand the recent retreat of a rapidly changing group of glaciers in West Antarctica. We found that significant melt underneath the floating extensions of the glaciers, driven by relatively warm ocean water at depth, was likely needed to cause the large retreat that has been observed. If melt continues around current rates, retreat is likely to continue through the coming century and extend beyond the present-day drainage area of these glaciers.