Project Structure

To address our objectives, we have split the project into nine Work Packages (WP) matching different objectives of the project (O).

Infographic of the 7 objectives

WP1 – Subpolar circulation, heat delivery and water mass export

WP1 addresses the key processes, connectivity and circulation of the Antarctic shelf seas. An ambitious circumpolar programme of instrument deployments, including mooring and novel profiling float arrays over the continental shelf is proposed. This is supported by close partnerships with South Korean, New Zealand, Australian, German and Japanese collaborators. Combined with high-resolution modelling and satellite observations, this will reduce the existing spatial and process gap in understanding. It will establish the role of Antarctic marginal seas in regulating heat delivery to the ice shelves (supporting WP2-4) and in the formation and export of dense water to the global ocean (supporting WP5-6).

WP2 – Cryosphere-ocean interaction, processes and feedbacks

WP2 focuses on the key role that ice sheet-ocean interaction plays in melting ice shelves and the export and freshwater distribution of icebergs. 

Innovative AUV deployments under ‘warm’ ice shelves and the first such observations targeted at grounded icebergs will be conducted (supported by South Korean partners), along with observations of ‘cold’ ice shelf cavity circulation, isotopic concentrations and mixing via a Norwegian-supported borehole. 

These observations will push forward the state-of-the-art in model basal melt tuning and the development of new parameterisations of iceberg dynamics and oxygen isotope tracking for key community models (NEMO, UKESM). These in turn will inform WP4-6 modelling, examining future ice sheet dynamics and climate coupling.

WP3 – Ice sheet mass balance, forcing and dynamics

WP3 provides updated values and uncertainties for freshwater fluxes from the AIS to the ocean over the satellite observational period to the present day, including surface melt and runoff, ice flow, basal melt and calving. 

This will be informed by new and existing EO data from ESA CCI and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (e.g. surface elevation change, grounding line location, surface damage, basal melt rates) and the collation of currently disparate datasets (e.g. ApRES ice radar, shallow ice cores and stake observations) together with model outputs. 

WP3 assess uncertainty in the updated freshwater fluxes and will deliver improved dynamical ice sheet model process representation (surface and subglacial freshwater discharge) and initialisations to WP2, 4, 6.

WP4 – Quantification of Antarctic Ice Sheet deep uncertainty and freshwater fluxes under climate forcing

WP4 utilises improved initialisation states from WP3 to project the freshwater fluxes of the AIS in ice sheet and coupled ice sheet-ocean models from 2020-2300 and its contribution to SLR. We provide first-of-their-kind spatiotemporal trends in calving rates, ice shelf basal melt and surface mass balance for all Antarctic basins. We apply surrogate modelling techniques in combination with high-resolution models to robustly quantify modelled freshwater flux uncertainties and sensitivities to a range of climate forcing scenarios and identify tipping points.

WP5 – Ice sheet impacts on global ocean circulation

WP5 examines the impact of ice sheet meltwater discharge on deep water formation and export from the poles, and the ultimate impact upon large-scale ocean circulation, including the AMOC and ACC. 

We will make the first sustained mooring observations of the primary AABW pathway from the Weddell Sea to the global ocean. The fate of this water and its contribution to the AMOC will be observed via new instrumentation of the SAMBA array in collaboration with SAMOC partners. 

In WP5, we also employ a novel inverse approach utilising oxygen isotope concentrations, resolving decadal to centennial changes in deep water properties. New model simulations will assess the impact of increased glacial melting (WP4) on global ocean circulation using a coupled Greenland Ice Sheet-climate model (NorESM-CISM) and an ocean model incorporating state-of-the-art deep ocean mixing parameterisations (NEMO). These models will investigate the relative role of northern vs southern sources of deep water and the influence of ice melt upon the AMOC on millennial timescales. 

Close collaboration on AMOC variability is planned with WP6 and the EPOC project.

WP6 – Role of Antarctica in the global climate:long-term impacts of short-term decision-making 

WP6 quantifies the impact of changes in the freshwater fluxes, including icebergs, from Antarctica on the global climate system. 

Insights and model developments from WP1-5 are going to be incorporated into a coupled ice sheet-ocean model (BISICLES and NEMO) to determine spatially and temporally resolved freshwater and iceberg flux fields. Wider future global impacts and feedbacks upon the AIS will be quantified up to the year 2300 using the UKESM ESM fully coupled with ice sheet model BISICLES, and for millennial timescales using the PISM-MOMcoupled ice sheet-ocean model. 

The impact analysis will specifically include interactions with other tipping elements in the Earth System such as the AMOC, and provide an improved understanding and quantification of potential impacts on global and regional temperatures, SLR and the global ocean circulation and water mass properties.

WP7 – Data management

WP7 project members ETT partnered with SOOS will provide data management and will design and manage the data flow to and from WP1-6 and stakeholders. Data management will be developed in compliance and interoperable with already existing infrastructures and integrators (e.g. EMODnet, CMEMS, SOOS) to avoid the duplication of effort and to facilitate a fast adoption and availability of the produced data. Data from OCEAN:ICE will be fully compliant with the FAIR, TRUST (Transparency, Responsibility, User focus, Sustainability and Technology) and INSPIRE EU principles.

WP8 – Science coordination

WP8 ensure that WP1-6 maintain scientific coherency throughout OCEAN:ICE, by hosting project meetings, scientific workshops and conference sessions bringing together OCEAN:ICE researchers and external collaborators. While WPs are arranged around scientific themes and interact explicitly through deliverables, there are four identified cross-cutting scientific storylines where work packages benefit from enhanced communications and collaboration. WP8 facilitate cross-WP collaboration on four thematic storylines that cross-cut work packages and objectives. These are: 

  • ice sheet to ocean freshwater fluxes and feedbacks (WP1-6), 
  • dense water formation, export and overturning (WP1,2,5), 
  • oxygen isotope exploitation (WP2,5) 
  • ice sheet-climate linkages (WP1-6). 


WP8 coordinate with WP9 to:

  • deliver scientific outputs for dissemination to local, regional and international policymakers and;
  • ensure optimum outreach to all project stakeholders.

WP9 – Project coordination, dissemination and outreach

WP9 addresses overall project management, ensuring deliverables and milestones are met, and is responsible for engagement and dissemination measures of OCEAN:ICE. 

In WP9 we provide added value to the project through coordinated communications (using results and scientific highlights from WP1-8), participation in project clusters (e.g. the EU Polar ClusterESA Polar Science Cluster and the All Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance AANCHOR), conferences and exhibitions, and multimedia platforms. 

Our partner European Polar Board (EPB) deliver relevant project results and impact to stakeholders in the form of policy briefings and webinars.

Our partner Women in Polar Science (WiPS) provide expertise and advice on our policy for Equality Diversion Inclusion (EDI) to the entire consortium