04 Jul 2022
04 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Slowdown of Shirase Glacier caused by strengthening alongshore winds

Bertie W. J. Miles1,2, Chris R. Stokes2, Adrian Jenkins3, Jim R. Jordan3,4, Stewart S. R. Jamieson2, and G. Hilmar Gudmundsson3 Bertie W. J. Miles et al.
  • 1School of Geosciences, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP, UK
  • 2Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK
  • 3Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK
  • 4Laboratoire de Glaciologie, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

Abstract. Observations have confirmed basal melt rates of up to 16 m a-1 underneath the Shirase ice tongue in East Antarctica. These high basal melt rates are caused by intrusions of warm modified Circumpolar Deep Water (mCDW) onto the continental shelf, a mechanism responsible for widespread mass loss in West Antarctica, together with parts of Wilkes Land. In contrast to those regions, the catchment of Shirase Glacier has been gaining mass, a trend attributed to increased precipitation. Here, we report on the dynamical ocean-driven slowdown, thickening and grounding line advance of Shirase Glacier, in response to strengthening easterly winds that reduce mCDW inflow and decrease basal melt rates. Our findings are significant because they demonstrate that warm water regimes are not universally associated with glacier acceleration and mass loss in Antarctica, and they highlight the overlooked role of ocean forcing in the recent mass gain of the Dronning Maud Land sector.

Bertie W. J. Miles et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2022-126', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 Aug 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2022-126', Anonymous Referee #2, 09 Aug 2022

Bertie W. J. Miles et al.

Bertie W. J. Miles et al.


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Short summary
Satellite observations have shown that the Shirase Glacier catchment in East Antarctica has been gaining mass over the past two decades, a trend largely attributed to increased snowfall. Our multi-decadal observations of Shirase Glacier show that ocean forcing has also contributed to some of this recent mass gain. This has been caused by strengthening alongshore winds reducing the inflow of warm water underneath the Shirase ice tongue.