2012-04-25. Warm Ocean Currents Cause Majority of Ice Loss from Antarctica

posted Apr 29, 2012, 12:19 PM by Alan D. GOULD
 | by NASA, Release 12-126. An article relevant to GSS Climate Change chapter 4. Excerpt: WASHINGTON -- Warm ocean currents attacking the underside of ice shelves are the dominant cause of recent ice loss from Antarctica, a new study using measurements from NASA's Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) revealed. …researchers concluded that 20 of the 54 ice shelves studied are being melted by warm ocean currents. …"We can lose an awful lot of ice to the sea without ever having summers warm enough to make the snow on top of the glaciers melt," said the study's lead author Hamish Pritchard of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, United Kingdom. "The oceans can do all the work from below. …"Studies have shown Antarctic winds have changed because of changes in climate," Pritchard said. "This has affected the strength and direction of ocean currents. As a result warm water is funnelled beneath the floating ice. These studies and our new results suggest Antarctica's glaciers are responding rapidly to a changing climate." A different picture is seen on the Antarctic Peninsula, the long stretch of land pointing towards South America. The study found thinning of the largest ice shelf on the peninsula can be explained by warm summer winds directly melting the snow on the ice shelf surfaces…. Read the full article: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/currents-ice-loss.html