From: Yale Environment 360
Published June 15, 2017 12:40 PM

Researchers Document Widespread Melting on Antarctica's Huge Ross Ice Shelf

Large-scale melting of snow and ice on Antarctica’s massive Ross Ice Shelf, brought about by an unusually warm stretch of weather in the summer of 2016, is one of the first documented cases of widespread surface melting of the Ross Ice Shelf and other regions of West Antarctica, according to a new study.

An area twice the size of California was partially melted when warm winds from an especially strong El Niño blew over western Antarctica for more than two weeks in January 2016. Satellite data showed a mix of melted snow and ice over most of the Ross Ice Shelf, which covers an area the size of France and is the largest floating ice shelf in the world.

More frequent melting would accelerate the general deterioration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is located to the west of the Ross Ice Shelf, explained David Bromwich of Ohio State team, co-author of a paper on the findings in Nature Communications. “Because we expect stronger, more frequent El Niños in the future with a warming climate, we can expect more major surface melt events in West Antarctica,” he cautioned.

Read more at Yale Environment 360

Image: West Antarctica, showing the number of melt days in January 2016. (Credit: JULIEN NICOLAS/LEAD AUTHOR)

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