East Antarctic Grounding Line Experiment (EAGLE)
Previous studies of the Indo-Pacific region of Antarctica show that the margin of the ice sheet in this region has advanced and retreated into deep interior basins many times in the past. The apparent instability of this region makes it an important target for study in terms of understanding the future of the East Antarctic ice sheet and sea level rise. This project will study a number of processes that control the ice-shelf stability of this region, with the aim of improving projections of the rate and magnitude of future sea-level rise. This project will engage a range of students and train this next generation of scientists in the complex, interdisciplinary issue of ice-ocean interaction. The project will integrate geophysical data collected from aircraft over three critical sections of the East Antarctic grounding line (Totten Glacier, Denman Glacier, and Cook Ice Shelf) with an advanced ocean model. Using Australian and French assets, the team will collect new data around Denman Glacier and Cook Ice Shelf whereas analysis of Totten Glacier will be based on existing data. The project will assess three hypotheses to isolate the processes that drive the differences in observed grounding line thinning among these three glaciers: 1. bathymetry and large-scale ocean forcing control cavity circulation; 2. ice-shelf draft and basal morphology control cavity circulation; 3. subglacial freshwater input across the grounding line controls cavity circulation. The key outcomes of this new project will be to: 1. evaluate of ice-ocean coupling in areas of significant potential sea-level contribution; 2. relate volume changes of grounded and floating ice to regional oceanic heat transport and sub-ice shelf ocean dynamics in areas of significant potential sea-level and meridional overturning circulation impacts; and 3. improve boundary conditions to evaluate mass, heat, and freshwater budgets of East Antarctica's continental margins.
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