Madrid, 22 (Europe Press)
The study, which was led by the University of East Anglia, UK, found that a small ocean circulation – a system of circulating ocean currents – near the Thwaites ice shelf can affect the amount of glacial meltwater flowing beneath it. When this circuit is weaker, more warm water can reach areas below the ice shelf, causing the ice to melt.
The Thwaites Ice Shelf is one of the largest in West Antarctica and underpins the eastern side of the Thwaites Glacier, which has receded rapidly in the past 20 years and is the Antarctic glacier that contributes most to sea level rise.
Using a unique dataset collected by sensors anchored beneath the Thwaites Ice Shelf – which has also weakened and weakened significantly in recent decades – the researchers noted that the shallow layers of ocean beneath them warmed significantly between January 2020 and March 2021.
Most of this warming has been driven by large-volume meltwater from the Pine Island Ice Shelf flowing east to the area below the Thwaites Ice Shelf.
Melted glacial water mixes with salt water when the ocean melts the base of the ice shelves and can form a buoy of water that is warmer than the surrounding water. surrounding water. This lighter, relatively cooler and warmer water contributes the heat that melts the base of the Thwaites Ice Shelf.
Lead author Dr Tiago Dotto, from the Center for Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences at UEA, said in a statement: “We have identified another process that can influence the stability of ice shelves, revealing the importance of local ocean circulation and sea ice.
“The circumpolar deep waters, a warm body of Antarctic waters, are a major factor in the melting of the base of the ice shelves. However, in this study, we show that a significant amount of heat in the shallow layers beneath the ice shelf may be generated by water from other ice shelves.” neighbors in the process of dissolution.
“So what happens to one ice shelf can affect the adjacent ice shelf, etc. This process is important for high-melting regions of ice shelves, like the Amundsen Sea, because one ice shelf sits next to the other, and heat can reach the export from one shelf.” glacier to the next through ocean circulation.
“These interactions between the atmosphere, sea, ice and ocean are important because they can prolong warm periods under ice shelves by allowing warm, enriched meltwater to enter adjacent ice shelf cavities.”
“Gels potentially present in other regions around Antarctica may also cause increased numbers of ice shelves to be subject to intense basal melt associated with prolonged warm conditions and, as a result, contribute more to global sea level rise.” Sea.
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