In this research project, the researchers are studying heat transport between sea and glaciers in the Amundsen Sea. The pathways, variability and heat flux of the warm deep water will be measured together with the subsurface production of glacier melt water. This will be done by hydrographic transects across the warm current as well as time series from autonomous moorings placed in the current path. The inflow of oceanic heat, the latent heat loss due to glacier melt, the heat loss to the cold surface water, and the outflow of oceanic heat from the shelf will be calculated together with their time development.

The seaward surging of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is strongest in the sector feeding into the Amundsen Sea. Understanding this system is central to our ability to predict WAIS behavior. Intrusions of warm and salty water have been observed on the bottom of deep troughs leading in to the ice shelves, but the region is severely under-sampled due to the harsh weather and ice conditions. The pathways of the warm ocean current and the glacier melt water on the shelf have not been mapped, and its temporal variation and trends are virtually unknown. A six year time series, the longest existing in Antarctica, of the circulation of warm deep water and glacier melt water on shelf will be obtained. This will enable studies of variability on time scales up to the Southern Annular Mode.

Principal investigator

Anna Wåhlin
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg