A 20-year study of melt processes over Larsen C Ice Shelf using a high-resolution regional atmospheric model: Part 1, Model configuration and validation

Ella M. K. Gilbert, Andrew Orr, John C. King, Ian A. Renfrew, Tom A. Lachlan-Cope

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Following collapses of the neighboring Larsen A and B ice shelves, Larsen C has become a focus of increased attention. Determining how the prevailing meteorological conditions influence its surface melt regime is of paramount importance for understanding the dominant processes causing melt and ultimately for predicting its future. To this end, a new, high-resolution (4 km grid spacing) Met Office Unified Model (MetUM) hindcast of atmospheric conditions and surface melt processes over the central Antarctic Peninsula is introduced. The hindcast is capable of simulating observed near-surface meteorology and surface melt conditions over Larsen C. In contrast with previous model simulations, the MetUM captures the observed east-west gradient in surface melting associated with foehn winds, as well as the interannual variability in melt shown in previous observational studies. As exemplars, we focus on two case studies—the months preceding the collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf in March 2002 and the high foehn, high melt period of March-May 2016—to test the hindcast's ability to reproduce the atmospheric effects that contributed to considerable melting during those periods. The results suggest that the MetUM hindcast is a useful tool with which to explore the dominant causes of surface melting on Larsen C.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021JD034766
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number8
Early online date14 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2022


  • Antarctic Peninsula
  • ice shelves
  • meteorology
  • model hindcast
  • regional climate modeling
  • surface melt

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