Tsunami and infragravity waves impacting Antarctic ice shelves

TitleTsunami and infragravity waves impacting Antarctic ice shelves
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBromirski PD, Chen Z., Stephen R.A, Gerstoft P, Arcas D., Diez A., Aster R.C, Wiens D.A, Nyblade A.
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-Oceans
Date Published2017/07
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2169-9275
Accession NumberWOS:000409893600033
Keywords2015 chile tsunami; coast; flow; noise; ocean waves; peninsula; sheet; stability

The responses of the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS) to the 16 September 2015 8.3 (M-w) Chilean earthquake tsunami (>75 s period) and to oceanic infragravity (IG) waves (50-300 s period) were recorded by a broadband seismic array deployed on the RIS from November 2014 to November 2016. Here we show that tsunami and IG-generated signals within the RIS propagate at gravity wave speeds (similar to 70 m/s) as water-ice coupled flexural-gravity waves. IG band signals show measureable attenuation away from the shelf front. The response of the RIS to Chilean tsunami arrivals is compared with modeled tsunami forcing to assess ice shelf flexural-gravity wave excitation by very long period (VLP; >300 s) gravity waves. Displacements across the RIS are affected by gravity wave incident direction, bathymetry under and north of the shelf, and water layer and ice shelf thicknesses. Horizontal displacements are typically about 10 times larger than vertical displacements, producing dynamical extensional motions that may facilitate expansion of existing fractures. VLP excitation is continuously observed throughout the year, with horizontal displacements highest during the austral winter with amplitudes exceeding 20 cm. Because VLP flexural-gravity waves exhibit no discernable attenuation, this energy must propagate to the grounding zone. Both IG and VLP band flexural-gravity waves excite mechanical perturbations of the RIS that likely promote tabular iceberg calving, consequently affecting ice shelf evolution. Understanding these ocean-excited mechanical interactions is important to determine their effect on ice shelf stability to reduce uncertainty in the magnitude and rate of global sea level rise. Plain Language Summary A major source of the uncertainty in the magnitude and rate of global sea level rise is the contribution from Antarctica. Ice shelves buttress land ice, restraining land ice from reaching the sea. We present the analysis of seismic data collected with a broadband seismic array deployed on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. The characteristics of ocean gravity-wave-induced vibrations, that may expand existing fractures in the ice shelf and/or trigger iceberg calving or ice shelf collapse events, are described. The mechanical dynamic strains induced can potentially affect ice shelf integrity, and ultimately reduce or remove buttressing restraints, accelerating sea level rise.

Short TitleJ Geophys Res-Oceans
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