Switch to Desktop Site

East Antarctic ice shelves melting at surprising pace, study suggests

Breakup of the shelves can accelerate the flow of continental ice to the sea, contributing to sea-level rise, and the Antarctic shelves 'are melting too fast,' the study's lead author says.


Emperor penguins walk across sea ice near Ross Island, Antarctica. New research finds the frozen continent's ice shelves melting at an alarming rate.

Courtesy Thomas Beer/AP/File

About these ads

Several small ice shelves along the East Antarctic coast appear to be melting at surprisingly high rates, some at rates comparable to those of shelves in West Antarctica, long a center of concern over the impact of climate change on the region's vast ice sheet and sea-level rise.

This is an unexpected result of a new study that documents the current status of ice shelves around Antarctica's coastline and the relative influence of the factors melting them.

It's unclear if the unexpected melt rates represent a trend. Conditions off the East Antarctic coast have been less-well studied than those off of West Antarctica, notes Stanley Jacobs, a researcher at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., and a member of the team reporting its results in the current issue of the journal Science.


Page 1 of 4