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Warmer Oceans Speed Up Antarctic Ice Loss

European researchers have once again warned that the thinning of the Antarctic ice shelf means that the flow of glaciers on the frozen continent could accelerate, with a consequent rise in sea levels.

They examine, in two separate studies, the increasingly precarious state of some of the ice shelf. When the shelf, consisting of ice floating on the ocean, melts, it makes no difference to sea levels. But the floating ice does have an effect on the land.

It serves as a brake on the pace of glaciers on their journey down to the sea – and the combined impact of warmer atmospheres and warmer seas in the Southern Ocean are rapidly thinning much of the ice shelf.

Helen Haden

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