Evidence from ice shelves for channelized meltwater flow beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet

Anne Le Brocq, Neil Ross, Jennifer Griggs, Robert Bingham, Hugh F. J. Corr, F Ferraccioli, Adrian Jenkins, Tom Jordan, Anthony Payne, David Rippin, M. J. Siegert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Meltwater generated beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) exerts a strong influence on both ice flow and ocean circulation. Changes in the subglacial hydrological system can lead to a substantial speed up or slow down of major ice streams and meltwater plumes beneath floating ice shelves, driven by subglacial meltwater input, cause large melt rates due to entrainment of warmer ocean water. Despite its importance, the nature of the hydrological system beneath the ice sheet remains poorly characterised. Here we present evidence for large (300 m wide, 250 m deep) sub-ice-shelf channels beneath the Filchner Ronne Ice Shelf, formed by a meltwater plume initiated by subglacial water exiting the upstream grounded ice sheet in a focussed (channelised) manner. We propose that the sub-ice-shelf channels provide a method for investigating the nature and evolution of the ice sheet’s subglacial hydrological system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-948
Number of pages4
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number11
Early online date7 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

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