Jun 10, 2016

Massive subsurface ice formed by refreezing of ice-shelf melt ponds

Bryn Hubbard, Adrian Luckman, David W. Ashmore, Suzanne Bevan, Bernd Kulessa, Peter Kuipers Munneke, Morgane Philippe, Daniela Jansen, Adam Booth, Heidi Sevestre, Jean-Louis Tison, Martin O’Leary, Ian Rutt
Nature Communications
  • States that surface melt ponds form intermittently on several Antarctic ice shelves
  • States that, although implicated in ice-shelf break up, the consequences of such ponding for ice formation and ice-shelf structure have not been evaluated
  • Reports the discovery of a massive subsurface ice layer located in an area of intense melting and intermittent ponding on Larsen C Ice Shelf, Antarctica
  • Combines borehole optical televiewer logging and radar measurements with remote sensing and firn modelling to investigate the layer, found to be ∼10 °C warmer and ∼170 kg m−3 denser than anticipated in the absence of ponding and formerly used in models of ice-shelf fracture and flow
  • Concludes that surface ponding and ice layers such as the one reported are likely to form on a wider range of Antarctic ice shelves in response to climatic warming in forthcoming decades