Washington: Antarctica’s massive ice shelves are shrinking
because they are being eaten away from below by warm water, a
new study finds. That suggests that future sea levels could rise
faster than many scientists have been predicting.
The western chunk of Antarctica is losing 23 feet of its
floating ice sheet each year. Until now, scientists weren’t
exactly sure how it was happening and whether or how man-made
global warming might be a factor.
Hamish Pritchard, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic
Survey, said research using an ice-gazing Nasa satellite showed
that warmer air alone couldn’t explain what was happening to
Antarctica. A more detailed examination found a chain of events
that explained the shrinking ice shelves.
Twenty ice shelves showed signs that they were melting from
warm water below. Changes in wind currents pushed that
relatively warmer water closer to and beneath the ice shelves.