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Antarctic Research Features

AVdP ice shelf edge 760x360recent article in Nature has demonstrated the dominant role of ocean forcing in driving West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) deglaciation. The evidence presented demonstrates this control both in records of past deglaciation (from 10,400 years ago until 7,500 years ago) and also in the deglaciation being observed at present, dating back to the 1940’s.

The results from the study show that warm Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) incursions cause melting of the underside of floating ice-shelves. This provides empirical evidence that is crucial for validating assumptions in numerical models. Such validation increases confidence in the predictive capability of current ice-sheet models, and points to the impact on future global sea-level rise from the Antarctic ice sheets.

Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, James A. Smith, David A. Hodell, Mervyn Greaves, Christopher R. Poole, Sev Kender, Mark Williams, Thorbjørn Joest Andersen, Patrycja E. Jernas, Henry Elderfield, Johann P. Klages, Stephen J. Roberts, Karsten Gohl, Robert D. Larter & Gerhard Kuhn, “West Antarctic Ice Sheet retreat driven by Holocene warm water incursions”, Nature 547, 43–48, July 2017.  DOI: 10.1038/nature22995

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