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Getting to the bottom of Antarctic ice shelf melt

by National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Credit: Una Miller/Unsplash New measurements from the ocean under the center of the Ross Ice Shelf have significantly improved our understanding of the complex processes that drive melting in Antarctica.

The measurements are the subject of a paper published this week in scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Lead author and NIWA marine physicist Dr. Craig Stevens says this is just the second set of measurements taken from this area, the first having been completed in 1977 with much more rudimentary technology and over a much shorter timeframe.

Melting Antarctic ice shelves will be responsible for a large proportion sea level rise caused by a warming climate. The ice shelves mainly melt from below by the ocean but with so little data available about how that water mixes, that significance is often overlooked in climate models. Dr. Stevens says the new measurements will help redress this.

The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest on the planet at 480,000 square kilometers. It is many hundred meters thick and more than 600km wide.

Dr. Stevens conducted the ocean measurements during an expedition in December 2017 when a hot water drill bored 350m […]

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