Melting of World's largest ice-shelf at a rate 10 times faster!

The world's largest ice shelf is melting at a rate of 10 times faster than what it used to be. The world's largest ice shelf covers an area equivalent to the area of the country France. The inflowing warm water results in faster melting of the ice shelf. 

First author Dr Craig Stewart from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand said, "The stability of ice shelves is generally thought to be related to their exposure to warm deep ocean water, but we’ve found that solar heated surface water also plays a crucial role in melting ice shelves". he was the one who had conducted his work and research while he was a PhD student.

Under the surface of the ice, the interaction between ice and ocean directly affects the sea-level. co-author Dr Poul Christoffersen from Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute says, "Previous studies have shown that when ice shelves collapse, the feeding glaciers can speed up by a factor or two or three. The difference here is the sheer size of Ross Ice Shelf, which over one hundred times larger than the ice shelves we’ve already seen disappear"

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There are many advanced techniques and instruments used, whose funding was supported by Antarctica New Zealand and the Rutherford Foundation’s Scott Centenary Scholarship at the Scott Polar Research Institute, which helped in measuring several things like, temperature, rate of melting, the thickness of shelf etc.

This melting rate is fastened due to the presence of large open ocean area around the ice shelf, causing a fast rate of melting, when the heated up water flows into the cavity of the ice shelves.

“Climate change is likely to result in less sea ice, and higher surface ocean temperatures in the Ross Sea, suggesting that melt rates in this region will increase in the future,” said Stewart.

“The observations we made at the front of the ice shelf have direct implications for many large glaciers that flow into the ice shelf, some as far as 900 km away,” said Christoffersen, meaning the islands nearby exert pressure that gets transmitted through the region and slows the flow of the entire ice shelf.

Though this region, despite the fast melting rate isn't unstable yet, it is predicted that the Ross island beneath might be a point of future vulnerability.

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