Measuring basal melting of ice shelves is challenging and represents a critical component toward understanding ocean-ice interactions and climate change. In November 2011, moorings containing fiber-optic cables for distributed temperature sensing (DTS) were installed through the McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica, (~200 m) and extending ~600 m into the ice shelf cavity. The high spatial resolution of DTS allows for transient monitoring of the thermal gradient within the ice shelf. The gradient near the ice-ocean interface is extrapolated to the in situ freezing temperature in order to continuously track the ice-ocean interface. Seasonal melt rates are calculated to be ~1.0 mm d-1 and 8.6 mm d-1, and maximum melting corresponds to the arrival of seasonal warm surface water in the ice shelf cavity between January and April. The development of continuous, surface-based techniques for measuring basal melting represents a significant advance in monitoring ice shelf stability and ice-ocean interactions.
- basal melting
- distributed temperature sensing
- ice shelves
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)