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Title: January 2016 extensive summer melt in West Antarctica favoured by strong El Niño

Over the past two decades the primary driver of mass loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) has been warm ocean water underneath coastal ice shelves, not a warmer atmosphere. Yet, surface melt occurs sporadically over low-lying areas of the WAIS and is not fully understood. Here we report on an episode of extensive and prolonged surface melting observed in the Ross Sea sector of the WAIS in January 2016. A comprehensive cloud and radiation experiment at the WAIS ice divide, downwind of the melt region, provided detailed insight into the physical processes at play during the event. The unusual extent and duration of the melting are linked to strong and sustained advection of warm marine air toward the area, likely favoured by the concurrent strong El Niño event. Finally, the increase in the number of extreme El Niño events projected for the twenty-first century could expose the WAIS to more frequent major melt events.
Authors:
 [1] ; ORCiD logo [2] ;  [3] ; ORCiD logo [1] ;  [4] ;  [1] ;  [5] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [7] ;  [6] ;  [1]
  1. The Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH (United States)
  2. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
  3. Univ. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA (United States)
  4. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
  5. The Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA (United States)
  6. Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, VIC (Australia)
  7. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
BNL-114021-2017-JA
Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723; R&D Project: 2016-BNL-EE630EECA-Budg; KP1701000
Grant/Contract Number:
SC00112704; AC02-06CH11357
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Upton, NY (United States); Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23), Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program; National Science Foundation (NSF); National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; atmospheric dynamics; cryospheric science
OSTI Identifier:
1368678
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1373601