Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans








The rapid thinning of the ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea is generally attributed to basal melt driven by warm water originating from the continental slope. We examine the hypothesis that processes taking place on the continental shelf contribute significantly to the interannual variability of the ocean heat content and ice shelf melt rates. A numerical model is used to simulate the circulation of ocean heat and the melt of the ice shelves over the period 2006–2013. The fine model grid (grid spacing 1.5 km) explicitly resolves the coastal polynyas and mesoscale processes. The ocean heat content of the eastern continental shelf exhibits recurrent decreases around September with a magnitude that varies from year to year. The heat loss is primarily caused by surface heat fluxes along the eastern shore in areas of low ice concentration (polynyas). The cold winter water intrudes underneath the ice shelves and reduces the basal melt rates. Ocean temperatures upstream (i.e., at the shelf break) are largely constant over the year and cannot account for the cold events. The cooling is particularly marked in 2012 and its effect on the ocean heat content remains visible over the following years. The study suggests that ocean-atmosphere interactions in coastal polynyas contribute to the interannual variability of the melt of Pine Island Glacier.


© 2015 American Geophysical Union.

AGU allows authors to deposit their journal articles if the version is the final published citable version of record, the AGU copyright statement is clearly visible on the posting, and the posting is made 6 months after official publication by the AGU.

To view the published open abstract, go to http://dx.doi.org10.1002/2015jc010709

Original Publication Citation

St-Laurent, P., Klinck, J. M., & Dinniman, M. S. (2015). Impact of local winter cooling on the melt of Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 120(10), 6718-6732. doi:10.1002/2015jc010709


0000-0002-1700-9509 (St-Laurent), 0000-0003-4312-5201 (Klinck), 0000-0001-7519-9278 (Dinniman)


Article Location