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Tech + Science


May 29, 2020 -

Antarctic ice sheets capable of retreating up to 50 meters per day

Antarctic ice sheets capable of retreating up to 50 meters per day
Seal on melting iceFile Image: (c) Photabulous!

The ice shelves surrounding the Antarctic coastline retreated at speeds of up to 50 metres per day at the end of the last Ice Age, far more rapid than the satellite-derived retreat rates observed today, new research has found.

The study, led by the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, used patterns of delicate wave-like ridges on the Antarctic seafloor to calculate how quickly the ice retreated roughly 12,000 years ago during regional deglaciation.

The ridges were produced where the ice sheet began to float, and were caused by the ice squeezing the sediment on the seafloor as it moved up and down with the movement of the tides. The images of these landforms are at unprecedented sub-metre resolution and were acquired from an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) operating about 60 metres above the seabed. The results are reported in the journal Science.


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