From: University of New South Wales
Published July 17, 2017 01:39 PM

Stronger winds heat up West Antarctic ice melt

New research published today in Nature Climate Change has revealed how strengthening winds on the opposite side of Antarctica, up to 6000kms away, drive the high rate of ice melt along the West Antarctic Peninsula.

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science found that the winds in East Antarctica can generate sea-level disturbances that propagate around the continent at almost 700 kilometers per hour via a type of ocean wave known as a Kelvin wave.

When these waves encounter the steep underwater topography off the West Antarctic Peninsula they push warmer water towards the large ice shelves along the shoreline.  The warm Antarctic Circumpolar Current passes quite close to the continental shelf in this region, providing a source for this warm water.

“It is this combination of available warm water offshore, and a transport of this warm water onto the shelf, that has seen rapid ice shelf melt along the West Antarctic sector over the past several decades,” said lead researcher Dr Paul Spence.

Read more at University of New South Wales

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