Eddie Gonzales Jr. – MessageToEagle.com – Hokkaido University scientists have discovered an abnormal melting hotspot located underneath Shirase Glacier Tongue in East Antarctica.
“Our data suggest that the ice directly beneath the Shirase Glacier Tongue is melting at a rate of 7-16 meters per year,” says Assistant Professor Daisuke Hirano of Hokkaido University’s Institute of Low-Temperature Science.
“This is equal to or perhaps even surpasses the melting rate underneath the Totten Ice Shelf, which was thought to be experiencing the highest melting rate in East Antarctica, at a rate of 10-11 meters per year.”
The 58th Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition had a very rare opportunity to conduct ship-based observations near the tip of East Antarctic Shirase Glacier when large areas of heavy sea ice broke up, giving them access to the frozen Lützow-Holm Bay into which the glacier protrudes.
The Antarctic ice sheet, most of which is in East Antarctica, is Earth’s largest freshwater reservoir. If it all melts, it could lead to a 60-meter rise in global sea levels. Current predictions estimate global sea levels will rise one meter by 2100 and more than 15 meters by 2500.
The scientists’ data suggests the melting is occurring as a result of deep, warm water flowing inwards towards the base of the Shirase Glacier Tongue. The warm water moves along a deep underwater ocean trough and then flows upwards along the tongue’s base, warming and melting the ice. The warm waters carrying the melted ice then, flow outwards, mixing with the glacial meltwater.
The research published in the journal Nature Communications can further contribute to better understanding and future predictions of sea-level rise caused by mass loss of ice sheets from the southernmost continent.
Written by Eddie Gonzales Jr. – MessageToEagle.com Staff