- A satellite survey of Antarctica shows at least 20 out of 54 observed platforms of ice have melted largely due to warming oceans below.
- Floating ice sheets act as a brake against the loss of Antarctica's land-bound rivers of ice, or glaciers.
- As these shelves melt away due to warming waters - mostly in West Antarctica - glaciers have begun to spill more and more ice into the seas.
When it comes to melting ice shelves in Antarctica, the danger comes from below, new research suggests.
By discovering the anatomy of ice loss across this chilly expanse, research may be able to forecast how the continent will melt in the future - and also how much global seas may rise.
Team member David Vaughan, a scientist at the European Union initiative ice2sea, said this study "shows the key to predicting how the ice sheet will change in the future is in understanding the oceans."
Water or wind?
Scientists have long known that the wide platforms of ice extending from the southernmost continent have been shrinking away. But what's behind the melting hasn't been clear - whether warm ocean currents or surface winds have a bigger impact on the ice.