Oct 26, 2016

Warm Ocean Water Takes Toll on Antarctica’s Glaciers

Andrea Thompson
Climate Central

It has become increasingly clear in recent years that ocean waters are eating away at the undersides of the ice shelves that fringe Antarctica and buttress its many glaciers. A new study released Tuesday has found that hundreds of feet of ice have been lost from the bottoms of a few of these ice shelves and glaciers in a region of the continent that is contributing the most to sea level rise.

The glacier that saw the most melt, Smith, lost about 1,000 feet of ice between 2002 and 2009, a stunning amount. The authors think this melt is “a strong piece of evidence” that these glaciers, along with the larger Amundsen region, were subjected to a large influx of warm ocean water during that period.

That influx could be due to changes in ocean circulation related to other changes wrought by climate change, but is still something scientists are avidly investigating.