Ross Gyre variability modulates oceanic heat supply toward the West Antarctic continental shelf

Channing J. Prend*, Graeme A. MacGilchrist, Georgy E. Manucharyan, Rachel Q. Pang, Ruth Moorman, Andrew F. Thompson, Stephen M. Griffies, Matthew R. Mazloff, Lynne D. Talley, Sarah T. Gille

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Number of pages10
JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
Volume5
Early online date22 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jan 2024

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