Interannual variability and ventilation timescales in the ocean cavity beneath Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica
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Multiyear time series of ocean current and temperatures from beneath Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica, demonstrate both seasonal and interannual variability. The seasonal signal is visible at all measurement sites, although it was swamped for a 2-year period (1999–2001) when extraordinarily light sea-ice cover in the southern Weddell Sea during the 1997–1998 Austral summer caused an anomalously large pulse of High Salinity Shelf Water to flush beneath the ice shelf. The pulse was observed twice at an instrumented site near the Berkner Island coast, once on its way to the Filchner Depression and once after the signal had propagated around the depression and returned to the site as an anomalously large pulse of Ice Shelf Water. The timings of the signal allow an estimate of 24–30 months for the flushing timescales of the sub-ice shelf ocean cavity, indicating that the cavity is highly responsive to external forcing. A timescale for the full ventilation of the cavity of 4–5 years is obtained from the length of time the sub-ice shelf conditions take to return to their original state, a timescale significantly shorter than previous estimates.