The Whole Antarctic Ocean Model (WAOM v1.0): Development and Evaluation

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Ole Richter, David Gwyther, Benjamin K. Galton-Fenzi, Kaitlin Naughten


The Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), including an ice shelf component, has been applied on a circum-Antarctic domain to derive estimates of ice shelf basal melting. Significant improvements made compared to previous models of this scale are the inclusion of tides and a horizontal spatial resolution of 2 km, which is sufficient to resolve onshelf heat transport by bathymetric troughs and eddy scale circulation. We run the model with ocean-atmosphere-sea ice conditions from the year 2007, to represent nominal present day climate. We force the ocean surface with buoyancy fluxes derived from sea ice concentration observations and wind stress from ERA-Interim atmospheric reanalysis. At the northern boundaries ocean conditions are derived from the ECCO2 reanalysis and tides are incorporated as sea surface height and barotropic currents. The accuracy of tidal height signals close to the coast is comparable to those simulated from widely-used barotropic tide models, while off-shelf hydrography agrees well with the Southern Ocean State Estimate (SOSE) model. On the shelf, most details of ice shelf-ocean interaction are consistent with results from regional modelling and observational studies, although a paucity of observational data (particularly taken during 2007) prohibits a full verification. We conclude that our improved model is well suited to derive a new estimate of present day Antarctic ice shelf melting at high resolution and is able to quantify its sensitivity to tides.



Earth Sciences, Geophysics and Seismology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


numerical modelling, ocean modelling, Antarctica, basal melting, ice shelf, ice shelf-ocean interaction


Published: 2020-06-12 08:25

Last Updated: 2020-06-18 03:53

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data Availability (Reason not available):
The model output can be obtained from the authors upon request. The source code and configuration files used for the simulations described here are archived at, while the maintained version is publicly available at The grid files, atmospheric forcing, initial conditions, and northern boundary conditions can be obtained from the authors upon request. The Python and Matlab scripts used to generate the grid and forcing files and to perform the analysis on the model output are archived at and the maintained version of these scripts is publicly available at

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