Study links Antarctic ice melt to climate change

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August 14, 2019 - 10:13 AM

As scientists watch the world’s ice melt away, predict sea level rises, and sound the alarm about climate change, they have been struggled to demonstrate a direct link between that and human activity, at least when it comes to the western Antarctic ice sheets — until now.

Atmospheric warming has been linked by researchers to the loss of ice in the Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of the continent. But air temperatures have remained quite low in the rest of Antarctica, including West Antarctica, causing scientists to look to the ocean as the cause for ice loss there, researchers say.

But authors of a study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience have documented changes in the character of the winds that sweep past West Antarctica’s most fragile glaciers. They’ve found that changes in the direction or strength of those winds are altering the ocean water that comes into contact with the ice, causing the glaciers to melt.

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