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Water mass modification over the continental shelf north of Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica

By K.W. Nicholls, L. Padman, M. Schröder, R.A. Woodgate, A. Jenkins and S. Østerhus


We use new data from the southern Weddell Sea continental shelf to describe water mass conversion processes in a formation region for cold and dense precursors of Antarctic Bottom Water. The cruises took place in early 1995, 1998, and 1999, and the time series obtained from moored instruments were up to 30 months in length, starting in 1995. We obtained new bathymetric data that greatly improve our definition of the Ronne Depression, which is now shown to be limited to the southwestern continental shelf and so cannot act as a conduit to northward flow from Ronne Ice Front. Large-scale intrusions of Modified Warm Deep Water (MWDW) onto the continental shelf occur along much of the shelf break, although there is only one location where the MWDW extends as far south as Ronne Ice Front. High-Salinity Shelf Water (HSSW) produced during the winter months dominates the continental shelf in the west. During summer, Ice Shelf Water (ISW) exits the subice cavity on the eastern side of the Ronne Depression, flows northwest along the ice front, and reenters the cavity at the ice front's western limit. During winter the ISW is not observed in the Ronne Depression north of the ice front. The flow of HSSW into the subice cavity via the Ronne Depression is estimated to be 0.9+/-0.3 Sv. When combined with inflows along the remainder of Ronne Ice Front (reported elsewhere), sufficient heat is transported beneath the ice shelf to power an average basal melt rate of 0.34+/-0.1 m yr(-1)

Topics: Marine Sciences, Glaciology
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1029/2002JC001713
OAI identifier:
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