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Ocean Waves Triggering Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapse

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Credit: Ian Phillips, AAD

Storm-driven ocean swells have triggered the catastrophic disintegration of Antarctic ice shelves in recent decades, according to new research published in Nature (https://goo.gl/oeUTRR).

Lead author Dr Rob Massom of the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre said that reduced sea-ice coverage since the late 1980s led to increased exposure of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula to ocean swells, causing them to flex and break.

“Sea-ice acts as a protective buffer to ice shelves by dampening destructive ocean swells before they reach the ice shelf edge,” Massom said. “But where there is loss of sea-ice, storm-generated ocean swells can easily reach the exposed ice shelf, causing the first few kilometres of its outer...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.