Over the last 15 years remarkable progress has been made in understanding the processes affecting Earth’s great ice sheets. At both poles, observations increasingly show the sensitivity of grounded ice to changes in the ocean, prompting flourishing new research into how ice sheets change in response to variations in ocean climate.

The processes that control the response of grounded ice to ocean changes appear to operate in an interrelated sequence. The open ocean delivers heat into the coastal seas; coastal seas transfer it to ice fronts via proglacial fjords and to the ice shelf cavities; processes at the ice–ocean interface melt the ice and affect behaviour in the inland ice streams; and the ice stream dynamics finally transmit changes across the drainage basins from which they are nourished. In this way, the ocean is intimately linked to ice-stream and drainage-basin changes; every process along this sequence is important, and changes to any of these stages can affect the whole system.

The meeting will bring together researchers from the oceanographic and glaciological communities who use observational and modelling tools in the study of:

  • ice-sheet stability;
  • surface mass balance and its influence on glacier dynamics;
  • ice stream–ice shelf interaction;
  • ice-sheet basal properties;
  • sub glacial hydrology;
  • tidewater glaciers and ocean interactions;
  • ice shelf mass balance;
  • ice shelf stability;
  • iceberg calving;
  • oceanographic circulation and processes within sub-ice shelf cavities;
  • circulation and ocean heat transfer through fjord systems;
  • continental shelf processes that modify oceanographic conditions and processes beneath ice shelves;
  • and teleconnections that influence shelf seas.

By bringing all these communities together, the aim of the meeting is to establish an integrated understanding of this interrelated sequence of processes that ultimately link open- ocean variations with changes in the inland ice sheet, and to provide an overview of the current state of knowledge in this rapidly-moving field of research.


Following on from the discussion above, topic areas will cover the sequence of environments and disciplines from the open ocean to the inland ice sheet, and include observations and modelling of:

  1. Transport of ocean heat across the continental shelf break (oceanographic mechanisms that allow heat onto the continental shelf, influence of teleconnections, shelf break ocean dynamics)
  2. Continental shelf ocean processes (processes influencing shelf conditions, circulation in proglacial fjords, impacts on the ice shelf cavity and tidewater glacier calving fronts, air-sea exchange, sea-ice formation, coastal polynyas)
  3. Sub-ice-shelf processes and environment (ice shelf basal mass balance, ice- ocean boundary layer, sub-ice shelf heat transport)
  4. Tidewater glacier and ice-shelf stability (iceberg calving processes, impact of sub-glacial drainage on ice front processes, ice-shelf disintegration, structure of ice shelves)
  5. Ice sheet-stream-shelf glaciology (impact of ice shelves on ice streams, grounding line dynamics, upstream propagation of grounding line changes, ice stream dynamics, ice stream basal conditions, sub-ice stream hydrology, ice sheet and ice stream mass balance)
  6. Dynamics and stability of ice sheets (evidence of past ice sheet instability from proxies, observed state of the great ice sheets, non-linear dynamical processes)
  7. Integrated understanding of the processes linking oceans and ice sheets, and changes therein (external drivers and internal instabilities, interactions between these, model predictions of future behaviour and implications thereof, overall effect of ocean and atmosphere on changes in the great ice sheets)

Potential participants are encouraged to contact the Chief Editor if they feel additional topics would be appropriate.



Scientific Editorial Committee

Chair: Tony Payne, University of Bristol

Hartmut Hellmer (AWI)
Patrick Heimbach (MIT)
Paul Holland (BAS)
Martin Truffer (Alaska)
Gael Durand (LGGE)
Mike Bentley (University of Durham)
Chris Little (Princeton University)
Ian Joughin (University of Washington)
Catherine Ritz (LGGE)
Tavi Murray (University of Swansea)