The Antarctic continental shelf is the most remote part of the global ocean, yet it has a critical role in controlling the interaction of a warming ocean with the Antarctic Ice Shelf (and hence global sea level). This region also produces the densest water in the open ocean, which forms on the continental shelf and cascades like an internal waterfall into the deep ocean (see image above, or this movie).
Measurements of processes on the Antarctic shelf are very sparse, making it difficult to ascertain how robust this region is to changes in Earth's climate (both in the past and in the future). In this project, we will use global, high-resolution ocean-sea ice models to better understand which processes dominate the circulation, and hence the heat and freshwater budget, of this critical region. We will investigate how eddies on the Antarctic slope, topographic canyons, changes in surface forcing and variations in climatological (and especially katabatic) winds conspire to control this complex, dynamic system. The outcomes will help to guide future scientific voyages to the Antarctic region, and to better design global models so as to be able to better predict long-term climate and sea level trajectories.