A Song of Ice and Water: Estimating Ice-Shelf Melt Rates

Team: 30

School: Los Alamos High

Area of Science: Climate and Earth Sciences

Interim: Problem definition:
Climate change and rising temperatures are causing increased melting of ice in the polar regions. The rate of the melting of the ice shelves of Antarctica is difficult to directly measure as it happens under the ice by the interaction of ice and sea water. The problem addressed in this project is trying to model and predict the ice melt rate based on ocean water measurements alone.

Problem solution:
I will do this by analyzing temperature and velocity data below certain ice shelves in Antarctica. With observations from the meltwater mixing line, a relationship between temperature, velocity, and volume of the water that connects the “source” ocean water which comes from the melting ice shelves, it can be measured how much of the heat carried by the water was preserved and how much of that heat was used for ice melting over time. I am also planning to use Machine Learning to analyze historical data and create a predictive model in order to visualize the amount of heat energy going in and out of the ice.

Progress to Date:
The ice-shelf data sets are derived from the Amisor project of the Australian Antarctic Data Centre; it took some searching to find a data sets with the correct information that is needed in order to calculate the melt rate. I analyzed the data using Python language by plotting temperature, velocity, and depth to confirm the right numbers are being used. The first plots needed to be altered by changing axis, ranges, and data components in order to portray the data in the most realistic way possible. I am trying now to estimate the volumes of water going in and out across the measuring line.

Expected Results:
I expect that analyzing the amounts of heat going in and out of the ice shelf will allow me to estimate the amount of ice melted. The results of this project will help understand how global warming affects the ice melting and predict the rate of future ice loss in the Antarctica and its effect on the climate change.


Australian Antarctic Data Centre. https://data.aad.gov.au/metadata/records/AMISOR_ship. Accessed 8 Dec, 2018.

E. Darelius and J. B. Sallée, Seasonal Outflow of Ice Shelf Water Across the Front of the Filchner Ice Shelf, Weddell Sea, Antarctica, Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 8, (3577-3585), (2018). Wiley Online Library

E. Rignot, S. Jacobs, J. Mouginot, B. Scheuchl. Ice-shelf Melting Around Antarctica. SCIENCE. 19 July, 2013. www.sciencemag.org.

Lazeroms, W. M. J., Jenkins, A., Gudmundsson, G. H., and van de Wal, R. S. W.: Modelling present-day basal melt rates for Antarctic ice shelves using a parametrization of buoyant meltwater plumes, The Cryosphere, 12, 49-70, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-49-2018, 2018.

Yan Liu, John C. Moore, Xiao Cheng, Rupert M. Gladstone, Jeremy N. Bassis, Hongxing Liu, Jiahong Wen, and Fengming Hui. Ocean-driven thinning enhances iceberg calving and retreat of Antarctic ice shelves. March 17, 2015. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1415137112

Team Members:

  Christie Djidjev

Sponsoring Teacher: NA

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