Whoo, I'm a hot dog this T👅T! Did you know that this June was the hottest on record??
Antarctic ice shelves are melting quickly, and new research givex insight into the forces causing the world's largest ice shelf to melt. Prior studies on ice shelf melt have focused on warming global waters. Yet three years of Rosetta data show that the Ross Ice Shelf is melting due to local surface waters, and that the melt is happening on an unanticipated part of the shelf.
The Ross Ice Shelf, a part of the Antarctic Ice Sheet that is floating on the ocean, measures several hundred meters thick and sits over 480,000 square kilometers, approximately the size of Spain. Its magnitude, and the fact that thinning of the ice shelf will speed up the flow of Antarctica's ice sheets into the ocean, mean that it carries significant sea level rise potential if it were to melt. Melting ice shelves like the Ross could cause seas to rise by several feet over the next few centuries.
The team found that the main source of ocean heat causing the ice shelf to melt was sunlight warming the upper ocean after the region's sea ice disappeared in summertime; sea ice normally reflects sunlight, whereas darker sea water absorbs it. The importance of local conditions near the ice front also shows that researchers must find a way to include these smaller-scale processes in global climate models, which scientists use to simulate climate impacts over the coming centuries. Testing and refining the global models will be critical in narrowing the range of predictions regarding how much ice Antarctica will lose in future climates, and how high seas will rise.
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