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Antarctic Peninsula Regional Circulation and Its Impact on the Surface Melt of Larsen C Ice Shelf

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  • 1 a North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina
  • | 2 b Fudan University, Shanghai, China
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Abstract

Enhanced surface melt over the ice shelves of the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is one of the precursors to their collapse, which can be proceeded by accelerated ground glacier flow and increased contribution to sea level rise. With the collapse of Larsen A and B and the major 2017 calving event from Larsen C, whether Larsen C is bound for a similar fate has received increasing attention. Here, the interannual variation of regional circulation over the AP region is studied using the empirical orthogonal function (EOF)/principal component (PC) analysis on the sea level pressure of ERA5. The EOF modes capture the variations of depth, location, and extent of Amundsen Sea low and Weddell Sea low in each season. Statistically significant positive correlations exist between Larsen C surface temperature and the PC time series of EOF mode 1 in winter and spring through northerly/northwesterly wind anomalies west of the AP. The PC time series of EOF mode 2 is negatively correlated with Larsen C surface temperature in autumn and summer and surface melt in summer, all due to southerly wind anomalies east of the AP. Surface energy budget analysis associated with EOF mode 2 shows that downwelling longwave radiation over Larsen C has negative statistically significant correlations with EOF mode 2 and is the major atmospheric forcing regulating the variation of Larsen C surface melt. Positively enhanced EOF mode 2 since 2004 is responsible for the recent cooling and decline of surface melt over Larsen C.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT

With the collapse of Larsen A and B Ice Shelves and the splitting up of Larsen C Ice Shelf (LCIS) in 2017, whether LCIS of the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is bound for a similar fate has drawn great attention in recent years. We examine the impact of AP regional circulation on the surface melt of LCIS. Variations in the western extent of the Weddell Sea low and the intensity of high pressure along AP account for a considerable amount of the interannual variation of summer surface melt of LCIS. These variations cause anomalous air movement, which influences the LCIS melt mainly through longwave radiation. These results implicate the influence of atmospheric forcing on the surface melt of LCIS.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Chongran Zhang, chongran.zhang@gmail.com

Abstract

Enhanced surface melt over the ice shelves of the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is one of the precursors to their collapse, which can be proceeded by accelerated ground glacier flow and increased contribution to sea level rise. With the collapse of Larsen A and B and the major 2017 calving event from Larsen C, whether Larsen C is bound for a similar fate has received increasing attention. Here, the interannual variation of regional circulation over the AP region is studied using the empirical orthogonal function (EOF)/principal component (PC) analysis on the sea level pressure of ERA5. The EOF modes capture the variations of depth, location, and extent of Amundsen Sea low and Weddell Sea low in each season. Statistically significant positive correlations exist between Larsen C surface temperature and the PC time series of EOF mode 1 in winter and spring through northerly/northwesterly wind anomalies west of the AP. The PC time series of EOF mode 2 is negatively correlated with Larsen C surface temperature in autumn and summer and surface melt in summer, all due to southerly wind anomalies east of the AP. Surface energy budget analysis associated with EOF mode 2 shows that downwelling longwave radiation over Larsen C has negative statistically significant correlations with EOF mode 2 and is the major atmospheric forcing regulating the variation of Larsen C surface melt. Positively enhanced EOF mode 2 since 2004 is responsible for the recent cooling and decline of surface melt over Larsen C.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT

With the collapse of Larsen A and B Ice Shelves and the splitting up of Larsen C Ice Shelf (LCIS) in 2017, whether LCIS of the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is bound for a similar fate has drawn great attention in recent years. We examine the impact of AP regional circulation on the surface melt of LCIS. Variations in the western extent of the Weddell Sea low and the intensity of high pressure along AP account for a considerable amount of the interannual variation of summer surface melt of LCIS. These variations cause anomalous air movement, which influences the LCIS melt mainly through longwave radiation. These results implicate the influence of atmospheric forcing on the surface melt of LCIS.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Chongran Zhang, chongran.zhang@gmail.com

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