A Wedge Mechanism for Summer Surface Water Inflow into the Ross Ice Shelf Cavity
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans (2019)
NB: Closed access article
We propose a mechanism for Mode 3 circulation that is aided by ice shelf front ablation: Direct contact of warm Antarctic Surface Water with the ice wall generates meltwater that buoyantly ascends the vertical face and leads to formation of a “wedge” of fresher water immediately adjacent to the wall, allowing surface waters to enter an ice shelf cavity with minimal mixing. We used observational data from the Ross Sea and Ross Ice Shelf cavity to demonstrate the existence of the wedge. Our analysis suggests that it is a pervasive feature of the Western Ross Sea in summer and enhances other inflow mechanisms.