As unusually warm ocean water melts the ice from below, the glaciers’ grounding lines are receding fast, bolstering fears of worst-case sea level rise.
A new analysis of satellite data has found “extreme” changes underway at eight of Antarctica’s major glaciers, as unusually warm ocean water slips in under their ice shelves.
The warmer water is eating away at the glaciers’ icy grasp on the seafloor. As a result, the grounding line—where the ice last touches bedrock—has been receding by as much as 600 feet per year, a new study shows. Behind the grounding line, the land-based ice then speeds up, increasing the rate of sea level rise.
The new continent-wide measurements of grounding lines suggests a widespread pattern of melting all around Antarctica, said University of Leeds climate researcher Hannes Konrad, lead author of the analysis published today in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience.