Ice shelves in Antarctica could melt each other

(ORDO NEWS) — A study by the University of East Anglia has shown that a system of circulating ocean currents near the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica can affect the amount of glacial meltwater flowing underneath.

Warmer fresh water from nearby glaciers could accelerate the melting of the Thwaites Ice Shelf.

A study by the University of East Anglia has shown that a system of circulating ocean currents near the Thwaites Ice Shelf can affect the amount of glacial meltwater flowing underneath. Warmer fresh water accelerates its melting.

The Thwaites Ice Shelf is one of the largest ice shelves in West Antarctica. It supports the east side of the Thwaites Glacier (Doomsday Glacier ), which has been melting rapidly over the past 20 years and is the largest contributor to global sea level rise of any Antarctic glacier. very high.

Using a unique set of data collected by sensors under the Thwaites Ice Shelf, which has also thinned significantly in recent decades, the researchers observed that the ocean surface beneath it warmed significantly in the short period between January 2020 and March 2021.

The warming is caused by large amounts of glacial meltwater flowing out of the Pine Island Ice Shelf, to the east of the Thwaites Ice Shelf.

Glacial melt water mixes with ocean salt water. Its layer is warmer than deeper waters. This lighter, relatively fresh and warm water brings heat that melts the base of the Thwaites Ice Shelf.

Domino effect

Ice shelves in Antarctica could melt each other 2
Thwaites Glacier

Lead author Thiago Dotto says : “Warm circumpolar waters play a key role in the melting of ice shelves. A large amount of heat in the surface layers under one ice shelf can be carried by currents to another.

What happens to one ice shelf can affect the adjacent ice shelf, and so on.

This process is important for regions with high levels of ice shelf melt, such as the Amundsen Sea, where glaciers are located next to each other and heat from one can reach the next through ocean circulation.”

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