WASHINGTON — Warm ocean currents attacking the underside of ice shelves are the dominant cause of recent ice loss from Antarctica, a new study using measurements from NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) revealed.
An international team of scientists used a combination of satellite measurements and models to differentiate between the two known causes of melting ice shelves: warm ocean currents thawing the underbelly of the floating extensions of ice sheets and warm air melting them from above. The finding, published today in the journal Nature, brings scientists a step closer to providing reliable projections of future sea level rise.
Sea ice around Antarctica has been increasing for more than three decades, and was above “normal” every day in 2012. NASA concludes that ocean currents (which they can’t model) are causing ice loss, and that they can predict future sea level rise based on this.