(From Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory/ By Marie Denoia Aronsohn) — In a study released on Nature Climate Change’s website today, scientists draw from recent findings to underscore the multifaceted dynamics of surface melting in Antarctica. The study authors come from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Rowan University.
Antarctica is often thought of as a cold, high, and dry place—and these are all certainly true of Earth’s largest ice sheet, which currently locks away about 58 meters of sea level rise. However, recent studies indicate that in a warming future, more of the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet will melt. Whether this new water collects in lakes, moves in rivers or is absorbed in the near surface snow like a sponge, has tremendous consequences for rising sea levels around the globe.
Today, Antarctica loses most of its ice mass by melting bottom-up from the ocean, and from the breaking off of icebergs. But recent research increasingly indicates that it may not always be this way. As global temperatures continue to rise, Antarctica may progressively face top-down ice loss, too, because of a warming atmosphere. In fact, recent modeling work has shown that it may actually be…
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