06 Dec 2022
 | 06 Dec 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Modeling Antarctic ice shelf basal melt patterns using the one-Layer Antarctic model for Dynamical Downscaling of Ice–ocean Exchanges (LADDIE)

Erwin Lambert, André Jüling, Roderik S. W. van de Wal, and Paul R. Holland

Abstract. A major source of uncertainty in future sea-level projections is the ocean-driven basal melt of Antarctic ice shelves. Whereas ice sheet models require a kilometer-scale resolution to realistically resolve ice shelf stability and grounding line migration, global or regional 3D ocean models are computationally too expensive to produce basal melt forcing fields at this resolution. To bridge this resolution gap, we introduce the 2D numerical model LADDIE (one-Layer Antarctic model for Dynamical Downscaling of Ice–ocean Exchanges) which allows for the computationally efficient modeling of basal melt rates. The model is flexible, and can be forced with output from coarse 3D ocean models or with vertical profiles of offshore temperature and salinity. In this study, we describe the model equations and numerics. To illustrate and validate the model performance, we apply the model to two test cases: the small Crosson-Dotson Ice Shelf in the warm Amundsen Sea region, and the large Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in the cold Weddell Sea. At ice-shelf wide scales, LADDIE reproduces observed patterns of basal melt and freezing that are also well reproduced by 3D ocean models. At scales of 0.5–5 km, which are unresolved by 3D ocean models and poorly constrained by observations, LADDIE produces plausible basal melt patterns. Most significantly, the simulated basal melt patterns are physically consistent with the applied ice shelf topography. These patterns are governed by the topographic steering and Coriolis deflection of meltwater flows, two processes that are poorly represented in basal melt parameterisations. The kilometer-scale melt patterns simulated by LADDIE include enhanced melt rates in basal channels, in some shear margins, and nearby grounding lines. As these regions are critical for ice shelf stability, we conclude that LADDIE can provide detailed basal melt patterns at the essential resolution that ice sheet models require. The physical consistency between the applied geometry and the simulated basal melt fields indicates that LADDIE can play a valuable role in the development of coupled ice–ocean modeling.

Erwin Lambert 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-2022-225', Clara Burgard, 10 Jan 2023
  • CC1: 'Comment on tc-2022-225', Dorothée Vallot, 23 Feb 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on CC1', Erwin Lambert, 01 Mar 2023
      • CC2: 'Reply on AC1', Dorothée Vallot, 02 Mar 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2022-225', Anonymous Referee #2, 02 Mar 2023

Erwin Lambert et al.

Erwin Lambert et al.


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Short summary
A major uncertainty in the study of sea-level rise is the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet by the ocean. Here, we have developed a new model, named LADDIE, that simulates this ocean-driven melting of the floating parts of the Antarctic ice sheet. This model simulates fine-scaled patterns of melting and freezing and requires significantly fewer computational resources than state-of-the-art ocean models. LADDIE can be used as a new tool to force high-resolution ice sheet models.