Science

Global Warming: Antartica Weather To Blame For Fastest Melting Glacier

By Donna Bellevue , Feb 23, 2017 05:42 AM EST
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Researchers have now pinpointed to Antarctica's weather as the cause of the fastest melting ice glaciers. Previously, they identified continental winds as the reason that pushes warm ocean waters underneath West Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier, triggering the rapid ice melting. Now, they say local weather patterns are the main culprit.

New analysis indicates that local weather conditions could be driving the rapid retreat of the Pine Island Glacier. It’s the fastest melting glacier in Antarctica to be recorded. Continental winds were previously thought to be the causative force, but after scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) used a unique five-year record that maps out ocean and atmosphere interaction, the real reason is revealed.

The new research about the effects of the Antarctica weather was published in the journal Nature Communication. It shows how variables such as changing currents, heat control, and the interaction between ocean and atmospheric conditions have affected the Pine Island Ice Shelf. Setting at the base of the South Pacific Ocean, records between 2009 and 2014 show that the ice shelf has been seriously affected by local atmospheric conditions, the Space Daily reports.

Ocean data that scientists study provide clear snapshots of glacier and water conditions. "People thought that it was the wind, at the edge of the continental shelf, that was determining how much water was pushed onto the shelf, warming the glacier from beneath," Ben Webber, lead researcher and oceanographer at the University of East Anglia, says. He adds that it is likely that local weather will continue to melt ice shelves around the cold continent, the Seeker reports.

Researchers say that the study on Antarctica's weather was a tremendous finding as it gives idea on what variable is truly responsible. It also provides insights into the processes that melts Pine Island Glacier. Early warning of future changes in ice shelf and glacial retreat may now be provided.

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