Antarctic Ice Sheet melting in the southeast Pacific

Stanley S. Jacobs, Hartmut H. Hellmer, Adrian Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

250 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


The first oceanographic measurements across a deep channel beneath the calving front of Pine Island Glacier reveal a sub-ice circulation driven by basal melting of 10-12 m yr-1. A salt box model described here gives a melt rate similar to that of ice balance and numerical models, 5-50 times higher than averages for the George VI and Ross Ice Shelves. Melting is fueled by relatively warm Circumpolar Deep Water that floods the deep floor of the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Sea continental shelves, reaching the deep draft of this floating glacier. A revised melt rate for ice shelves in the Southeast Pacific sector raises circumpolar ice shelf melting to 756 Gt yr-1. Given prior estimates of surface accumulation and iceberg calving, this suggests that the Antarctic Ice Sheet is currently losing mass to the ocean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-960
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1996
Externally publishedYes


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