Ross Gyre variability modulates oceanic heat supply toward the West Antarctic continental shelf
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West Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss is a major source of uncertainty in sea level projections. The primary driver of this melting is oceanic heat from Circumpolar Deep Water originating offshore in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Yet, in assessing melt variability, open ocean processes have received considerably less attention than those governing cross-shelf exchange. Here, we use Lagrangian particle release experiments in an ocean model to investigate the pathways by which Circumpolar Deep Water moves toward the continental shelf across the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean. We show that Ross Gyre expansion, linked to wind and sea ice variability, increases poleward heat transport along the gyre’s eastern limb and the relative fraction of transport toward the Amundsen Sea. Ross Gyre variability, therefore, influences oceanic heat supply toward the West Antarctic continental slope. Understanding remote controls on basal melt is necessary to predict the ice sheet response to anthropogenic forcing.
Prend , C J , MacGilchrist , G A , Manucharyan , G E , Pang , R Q , Moorman , R , Thompson , A F , Griffies , S M , Mazloff , M R , Talley , L D & Gille , S T 2024 , ' Ross Gyre variability modulates oceanic heat supply toward the West Antarctic continental shelf ' , Communications Earth & Environment , vol. 5 , 47 . https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-024-01207-y
Communications Earth & Environment
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DescriptionC.J.P., G.A.M., M.R.M., L.D.T., and S.T.G. were supported by NSF PLR-1425989 and OPP-1936222 (Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project). C.J.P. received additional support from a NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship. G.A.M. received additional support from UKRI Grant Ref. MR/W013835/1. G.E.M. was supported by NSF OPP-2220969. R.Q.P. was supported by the High Meadows Environmental Institute Internship Program. R.M. was supported by the General Sir John Monash Foundation. A.F.T. was supported by NSF OPP-1644172 and NASA grant 80NSSC21K0916. M.R.M. also acknowledges funding from NSF awards OCE-1924388 and OPP-2319829 and NASA awards 80NSSC22K0387 and 80NSSC20K1076.
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