Evidence shows that meltwater is causing ice shelves in Antarctica to fracture, scientists report

Meltwater Puts Vulnerable Ice Shelves at Risk of Collapse: Scientists Discover Ice Fracturing Due to Loaded Surface Water

In recent years, scientists have been studying the effects of climate change on ice shelves in Antarctica. A group of researchers placed instruments on an ice shelf in the region and discovered that ponds of meltwater were causing the ice to flex and fracture. This phenomenon had been predicted by scientists but had never been observed in the field before. The finding raises concerns about the potential collapse of vulnerable ice shelves as climate change leads to more melting, contributing to global sea rise.

Alison Banwell, a scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder, explained the importance of ice shelves for the overall health of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. She noted that loading surface meltwater onto ice shelves could cause them to fracture and potentially collapse. This process was observed in a study published in the Journal of Glaciology on May 4th.

Doug MacAyeal, a University of Chicago professor, commented on the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002, attributing it to similar processes that cause ice shelves to fracture and collapse. He pointed out that over 1,000 square miles of Antarctic ice collapsed into the ocean in just weeks during that event. This suggests that other ice shelf collapses may be caused by similar processes as well.

In 2019, Banwell and her research team visited

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