The Southern Ocean exerts a major influence on the mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, either indirectly, by its influence on air temperatures and winds, or directly, mostly through its effects on ice shelves. How much melting the ocean causes depends on the temperature of the water, which in turn is controlled by the combination of the thermal structure of the surrounding ocean and local ocean circulation, which in turn is determined largely by winds and bathymetry. As climate warms and atmospheric circulation changes, there will be follow-on changes in the ocean circulation and temperature. These consequences will affect the pace of mass loss of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
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