The safety band of Antarctic ice shelves

Journal article

Publication Details

Author(s): Fürst J, Durand G, Gillet-Chaulet F, Tavard L, Rankl M, Braun M, Gagliardini O
Journal: Nature Climate Change
Publication year: 2016
Volume: 6
Pages range: 479-482
ISSN: 1758-6798
Language: English


The floating ice shelves along the seaboard of the Antarctic ice
sheet restrain the outflowof upstreamgrounded ice. Removal
of these ice shelves, as shown by past ice-shelf recession and
break-up, accelerates the outflow, which adds to sea-level
rise. A key question in predicting future outflow is to quantify
the extent of calving that might precondition other dynamic
consequences and lead to loss of ice-shelf restraint. Here we
delineate frontal areas that we label as ‘passive shelf ice’ and
that can be removed without major dynamic implications, with
contrasting results across the continent. The ice shelves in the
Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas have limited or almost no
‘passive’ portion, which implies that further retreat of current
ice-shelf fronts will yield important dynamic consequences.
This region is particularly vulnerable as ice shelves have been
thinning at high rates for two decades and as upstream
grounded ice rests on a backward sloping bed, a precondition to
marine ice-sheet instability. In contrast to these ice shelves,
Larsen C Ice Shelf, in theWeddell Sea, exhibits a large ‘passive’
frontal area, suggesting that the imminent calving of a vast
tabular iceberg will be unlikely to instantly produce much
dynamic change.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Braun, Matthias Prof. Dr.
Professur für Geographie (Fernerkundung und GIS)
Fürst, Johannes Dr.
Institut für Geographie
Rankl, Melanie
Institut für Geographie

How to cite

Fürst, J., Durand, G., Gillet-Chaulet, F., Tavard, L., Rankl, M., Braun, M., & Gagliardini, O. (2016). The safety band of Antarctic ice shelves. Nature Climate Change, 6, 479-482.

Fürst, Johannes, et al. "The safety band of Antarctic ice shelves." Nature Climate Change 6 (2016): 479-482.


Last updated on 2018-02-11 at 12:10

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