Global warming: New threat to Antarctic ice shelves

Summit County Citizens Voice

Warming air temps likely to trigger a chain reaction that could undermine stability of glaciers

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While British researchers recently showed how warming ocean currents are melting ice sheets in West Antarctica, other areas may also be susceptible rapid and potentially catastrophic disintegration — especially the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf fringing the Weddell Sea.

Rising air temperatures in the region will break down a hydrological boundary of cold water, allowing warmer water to infiltrate beneath the ice. The model projects that huge masses of the as-yet stable ice shelf could become unstable and slide into the ocean in the next 50 to 60 years.

A new study by scientists with the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research suggests the shelf could start to melt rapidly in this century and no longer act as a barrier for ice streams draining the Antarctic Ice…

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