Melting Patterns Beneath Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf

The Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Photo by Susan Howard, Earth & Space Research.

A new paper in Nature Geoscience summarizes a large, multi-institution, interdisciplinary study of Ross Ice Shelf, which is about the area of Spain and is the largest ice shelf in the world. The work was funded by the Antarctic Integrated System Science program of the US National Science Foundation.

The study identifies the precise location of the ancient geologic boundary between East and West Antarctica, updates maps of seabed depth under the ice shelf, and identifies potential risks to the ice shelf in future climates, focusing on summer warming of upper ocean water near the ice front.

ESR polar scientists Scott Springer, Susan Howard and Laurie Padman contributed to the study, along with colleagues at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, and Colorado College and the School of Mines in Colorado.

Study Uncovers Surprising Melting Patterns Beneath Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf – Scripps Press Release

Ross Ice Shelf response to climate driven by the tectonic imprint on seafloor bathymetry, Nature Geoscience (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0370-2 ,

Watch the follow movies, included in the paper’s Supplementary Information section, which illustrate the flow of water masses under the Ross Ice Shelf.