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Genesis of the Antarctic Slope Current in West Antarctica

Thompson, Andrew F. and Speer, Kevin G. and Schulze Chretien, Lena M. (2020) Genesis of the Antarctic Slope Current in West Antarctica. Geophysical Research Letters, 47 (16). Art. No. e2020GL087802. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2020gl087802.

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The stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) depends on ocean heat transport toward its base and remains a source of uncertainty in sea level rise prediction. The Antarctic Slope Current (ASC), a major boundary current of the ocean's global circulation, serves as a dynamic gateway for heat transport toward Antarctica. Here, we use observations collected from the Bellingshausen Sea to propose a mechanistic explanation for the initiation of the westward‐flowing ASC. Waters modified throughout the Bellingshausen Sea by ocean‐sea‐ice and ocean‐ice‐shelf interactions are exported to the continental slope in a narrow, topographically steered western boundary current. This focused outflow produces a localized front at the shelf break that supports the emerging ASC. This mechanism emphasizes the importance of buoyancy forcing, integrated over the continental shelf, as opposed to local wind forcing, in the generation mechanism and suggests the potential for remote control of melt rates of WAIS' largest ice shelves.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Thompson, Andrew F.0000-0003-0322-4811
Schulze Chretien, Lena M.0000-0002-9668-5213
Additional Information:© 2020 American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 13 August 2020; Version of Record online: 13 August 2020; Manuscript accepted: 15 June 2020; Manuscript revised: 20 May 2020; Manuscript received: 04 March 2020. We acknowledge essential contributions from the captain and crew of the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer as well as the Antarctic Support Contract staff during NBP19‐01. We thank A. Jenkins and D. Shoosmith for sharing data from the JR165 cruise. Funding for AFT was provided by OPP‐1644172 and the Packard Foundation. Funding for KS was provided by NSF OPP‐1643679 and OCE‐1658479. Data Availability Statement: Data from NBP19‐01 are archived at the National Center for Environmental Information; data from JGR165 are archived at the British Oceanography Data Centre; MEOP data are archived at Data from NBP19‐01 are archived at the National Center for Environmental Information and have the NCEI Accession Number 0210639.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Antarctic Slope Current; Circumpolar Deep Water; front; circulation; melt; shelf
Issue or Number:16
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200818-125233247
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Official Citation:Thompson, A. F., Speer, K. G., & Schulze Chretien, L. M. (2020). Genesis of the Antarctic Slope Current in West Antarctica. Geophysical Research Letters, 47, e2020GL087802.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105002
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:18 Aug 2020 21:27
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:38

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