Our group published a new paper today in Science Advances, which suggests that ice-flow models that predict future sea-level rise are missing an important process: Basal channels, which are “upside-down rivers” of buoyant water flowing along the undersides of ice shelves, have formed at the margins of some of Antarctica’s most important ice streams. For example, Pine Island Glacier, shown below in a 2007 NASA MODIS satellite image, has basal channels beneath both of its weak “shear-margins” (red dashed lines). We know warm water is flowing through these channels because they create open-water areas, called “polynyas,” at the ice-shelf edge. These channels are weakening the weakest areas of fast-flowing ice streams, making them more susceptible to ocean-driven break-up.
Check out Wooster’s press release here: https://news.wooster.edu/news/2019/10/wooster-professor-is-lead-author-in-new-study-on-antarctic-conditions-that-are-causing-sea-level-rise/
The full article is open-access and can be downloaded from Science Advances: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/advances/5/10/eaax2215.full.pdf