Theme 1: Cryosphere-Ocean Interaction

Advancing our understanding of how the oceans melt Antarctic ice shelves, and quantifying present and future Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss and its contribution to sea-level rise.

Objectives are:

  • To quantify ocean transport processes that connect continental shelf-ocean processes with the sub-ice-shelf environment (including into the sub-ice-shelf boundary layer);
  • To characterise the link between sub-ice boundary layer processes, the rates of melting/freezing at the base of the ice sheets and the response of the ice flow within East Antarctic ice shelves and glaciers;
  • To determine ice-shelf geometry and continental shelf bathymetry through the use of in situ seismic, radar and hybrid remotely-operated and autonomous vehicle technology to constrain airborne and satellite-derived gravity estimates; and
  • To improve representation of ice shelf-ocean processes in numerical models, by using insights gained from the synthesis of remote sensing data and simultaneous glaciological and oceanographic measurements.

This research will result in an effective national response to sea level rise and other climate change impacts, based on improved knowledge of how the Antarctic Ice Sheet and sea level responds to climate change.

Another significant outcome will be a national capability in multi-disciplinary investigations of ocean – ice shelf interaction. This will include innovative and cost-effective observing systems for on-ice and under-ice measurements and numerical models equipped to project future change.

In the 2014-15 summer, an Antarctic Gateway Partnership expedition to the Totten and Mertz Glaciers measured ocean currents and water properties near the front of each glacier from the Aurora Australis with new profiling floats and the first-ever deployment of an acoustically-navigated glider in the East Antarctic.

Interested in working with this team? PhD Scholarships available now.

Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi discussing Theme 1

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
September 30, 2015