By analyzing 40 years worth of satellite imagery of West Antarctica, scientists from the University of Texas have recently concluded that the floating ice shelves are losing their grip on the bay walls that used to sustain them. This situation could worsen the loss of ice into the sea.
“Typically, the leading edge of an ice shelf moves forward steadily over time, retreating episodically when an iceberg calves off, but that is not what happened along the shear margins,” researcher Joseph MacGregor said.
“As a glacier goes afloat, becoming an ice shelf, its flow is resisted partly by the margins, which are the bay walls or the seams where two glaciers merge,” study co-author Ginny Catania said.
“An accelerating glacier can tear away from its margins, creating rifts that negate the margins’ resistance to ice flow and causing additional acceleration.”
Some scientists have been saying earlier this year that the harsh winters in Europe and the U.S. in recent years have been caused by melting ice sheets, which have been caused by the global warming we’re all partially guilty of.