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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2019-205
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2019-205
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: data description paper 28 Oct 2019

Submitted as: data description paper | 28 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).

An updated seabed bathymetry beneath Larsen C Ice Shelf, west Antarctic

Alex Brisbourne1, Bernd Kulessa2, Thomas Hudson1, Lianne Harrison1, Paul Holland1, Adrian Luckman2, Suzanne Bevan2, David Ashmore3, Bryn Hubbard4, Emma Pearce5, James White6, Adam Booth5, Keith Nichols1, and Andrew Smith1 Alex Brisbourne et al.
  • 1British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK
  • 2Glaciology Group, College of Science, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK
  • 3School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 7ZT, UK
  • 4Centre for Glaciology, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DB, UK
  • 5Department of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
  • 6British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG, UK

Abstract. In recent decades, rapid ice-shelf disintegration along the Antarctic Peninsula has had a global impact through enhancing outlet glacier flow, and hence sea level rise, and the freshening of Antarctic Bottom Water. Ice shelf thinning due to basal melting results from the circulation of relatively warm water in the underlying ocean cavity. However, the effect of sub-shelf circulation on future ice-shelf stability cannot be predicted accurately with computer simulations if the geometry of the ice-shelf cavity is unknown. To address this deficit for Larsen C Ice Shelf, west Antarctica, we integrate new water-column thickness measurements with existing observations. We present these new data here along with an updated bathymetry grid of the ocean cavity. Key findings include relatively deep seabed to the south-east of the Kenyon Peninsula, along the grounding line and around the key ice shelf pinning point of Bawden Ice Rise. In addition, we can confirm that the cavity’s southern trough stretches from Mobiloil Inlet to the open ocean. These areas of deep seabed will influence ocean circulation and tidal mixing, and will therefore affect the basal-melt distribution. These results will help constrain models of ice-shelf cavity circulation with the aim of improving our understanding of sub-shelf processes and their potential influence on ice shelf stability. The data set comprises all point measurements of seabed depth and a gridded data product, derived using additional measurements of both offshore seabed depth and the thickness of grounded ice. We present all new depth measurements here as well as a compilation of previously published measurements used in the gridding process. The gridded data product is included in the supplementary material.

The underlying seismic data sets which were used to determine bed depth and ice thickness are available at https://doi.org/10.5285/315740B1-A7B9-4CF0-9521-86F046E33E9A (Brisbourne et al., 2019), https://doi.org/10.5285/5D63777D-B375-4791-918F-9A5527093298 (Booth, 2019), https://doi.org/10.5285/FFF8AFEE-4978-495E-9210-120872983A8D (Kulessa and Bevan, 2019) and https://doi.org/10.5285/147BAF64-B9AF-4A97-8091-26AEC0D3C0BB (Booth et al., 2019).

Alex Brisbourne et al.
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Status: open (until 23 Dec 2019)
Status: open (until 23 Dec 2019)
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Alex Brisbourne et al.
Data sets

Seismic bathymetry data, Antarctic Peninsula, Larsen C Ice Shelf, 2016 [Data set] A. Brisbourne, T. Hudson, and P. Holland https://doi.org/10.5285/315740B1-A7B9-4CF0-9521-86F046E33E9A

Seismic refraction data, Antarctic Peninsula, Larsen C Ice Shelf, Whirlwind Inlet, November-December 2015 [Data set] A. Booth https://doi.org/10.5285/5D63777D-B375-4791-918F-9A5527093298

Seismic refraction data, Antarctic Peninsula, Larsen C Ice Shelf, Cabinet Inlet, November-December 2014 [Data set] B. Kulessa and S. Bevan https://doi.org/10.5285/FFF8AFEE-4978-495E-9210-120872983A8D

Seismic refraction data from two sites on Antarctica's Larsen C Ice Shelf, Nov 2017, following the calving of Iceberg A68 [Data set] A. Booth, J. White, E. Pearce, S. Cornford, A. Brisbourne, A. Luckman, and B. Kulessa https://doi.org/10.5285/147BAF64-B9AF-4A97-8091-26AEC0D3C0BB

Alex Brisbourne et al.
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Short summary
Melt of the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica may lead to its collapse. To help estimate its life span we need to understand how the ocean can circulate beneath. This requires knowledge of the geometry of the sub-shelf cavity. New and existing measurements of seabed depth are integrated to produce a map of the ocean cavity beneath the ice shelf. The observed deep seabed may provide a pathway for circulation of warm ocean water but at the same time reduce rapid tidal melt at a critical location.
Melt of the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica may lead to its collapse. To help estimate its life...
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