Articles | Volume 15, issue 7
The Cryosphere, 15, 3459–3494, 2021
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-3459-2021
The Cryosphere, 15, 3459–3494, 2021
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-3459-2021
Research article
26 Jul 2021
Research article | 26 Jul 2021

Energetics of surface melt in West Antarctica

Madison L. Ghiz et al.

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Cited articles

Adusumilli, S., Fricker, H. A., Medley, B., Padman, L., and Siegfried, M. R.: Interannual variations in meltwater input to the Southern Ocean from Antarctic ice shelves, Nat. Geosci., 13, 616–620, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-020-0616-z, 2020. 
Alley, R. B., Anandakrishnan, S., Christianson, K., Horgan, H. J., Muto, A., Parizek, B. R., Pollard, D., and Walker, R. T.: Oceanic forcing of ice-sheet retreat: West Antarctica and more, Annu. Rev. Earth Pl. Sc., 43, 207–231, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-060614-105344, 2015. 
Bell, R. E., Chu, W., Kingslake, J., Das, I., Tedesco, M., Tinto, K. J., Zappa, C. J., Frezzotti, M., Boghosian, A., and Lee, W. S.: Antarctic ice shelf potentially stabilized by export of meltwater in surface river, Nature, 544, 344–351, https://doi.org/10.1038/nature22048, 2017. 
Bell, R. E., Banwell, A. F., Trusel, L. D., and Kingslake, J.: Antarctic surface hydrology and impacts on ice-sheet mass balance, Nat. Clim. Change, 8, 1044–1052, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0326-3, 2018. 
Bennartz, R., Shupe, M. D., Turner, D. D., Walden, V. P., Steffen, K., Cox, C. J., Kulie, M. S., Miller, N. B., and Pettersen, C.: July 2012 Greenland melt extent enhanced by low-level liquid clouds, Nature, 496, 83–86, https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12002, 2013. 
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Short summary
We investigate how melt occurs over the vulnerable ice shelves of West Antarctica and determine that the three primary mechanisms can be evaluated using archived numerical weather prediction model data and satellite imagery. We find examples of each mechanism: thermal blanketing by a warm atmosphere, radiative heating by thin clouds, and downslope winds. Our results signify the potential to make a multi-decadal assessment of atmospheric stress on West Antarctic ice shelves in a warming climate.