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Stronger Ocean Currents Speed Melting Of Antarctic Ice

June 27, 2011 Comments off

nanopatentsandinnovations

Stronger ocean currents beneath West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf are eroding the ice from below, speeding the melting of the glacier as a whole, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. A growing cavity beneath the ice shelf has allowed more warm water to melt the ice, the researchers say—a process that feeds back into the ongoing rise in global sea levels. The glacier is currently sliding into the sea at a clip of four kilometers (2.5 miles) a year, while its ice shelf is melting at about 80 cubic kilometers a year – 50 percent faster than it was in the early 1990s – the paper estimates.

A major glacier is undermined from below: upwelling seawater along parts of Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf has carved out caves in the ice and drawn wildlife like this whale.

Credit: Maria Stenzel, all rights reserved.

“More warm water from the deep ocean is entering the cavity beneath the ice shelf, and it is warmest where the ice is thickest,” said study’s lead author, Stan Jacobs, an oceanographer at Read more…