Picture: Antarctic ice. Credit: Charles Odinot Pexels

Ocean warming around the Antarctic coast plays a critical role in melting Antarctic ice shelves. Understanding future changes in Antarctic shelf warming is critical to help us determine future changes in both ice shelves and ice sheets.

To do this CLEX researchers assessed the average state of ocean temperature and trends around the Antarctic margin in a suite of coupled climate models. On average, these models do a reasonable job of capturing the mean-state ocean characteristics, however, the models are slightly too warm compared to observations.

The projections suggest the ocean around Antarctica will warm under future emission scenarios, with the level of warming under the high emission scenario almost double that under the medium-low emission scenario. The projected warming around Antarctica is due to both wind-driven circulation changes, and to ocean warming to the north of coastal regions.

  • Paper: Purich, A., & England, M. H. (2021). Historical and future projected warming of Antarctic Shelf Bottom Water in CMIP6 models. Geophysical Research Letters48, e2021GL092752.https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GL092752