by Oregon State University, July 18, 2019 in ScienceDaily
Warming temperatures and changes in ocean circulation and salinity are driving the breakup of ice sheets in Antarctica, but a new study suggests that intense storms may help push the system over the edge.
A research team led by U.S. and Korean scientists deployed three moorings with hydrophones attached seaward of the Nansen Ice Shelf in Antarctica’s Ross Sea in December of 2015, and were able to record hundreds of short-duration, broadband signals indicating the fracturing of the ice shelf.
The “icequakes” primarily took place between January and March of 2016, with the front of the ice sheet calving into two giant icebergs on April 7. The day the icebergs drifted away from the shelf coincided with the largest low-pressure storm system the region had recorded in the previous seven months, the researchers say.
Results of the study are being published this week in Frontiers in Earth Science.
- R. P. Dziak, W. S. Lee, J. H. Haxel, H. Matsumoto, G. Tepp, T.-K. Lau, L. Roche, S. Yun, C.-K. Lee, J. Lee, S.-T. Yoon. Hydroacoustic, Meteorologic and Seismic Observations of the 2016 Nansen Ice Shelf Calving Event and Iceberg Formation. Frontiers in Earth Science, 2019; 7 DOI: 10.3389/feart.2019.00183