Gliders find why Antarctic glaciers are melting bottom-first

By on November 19, 2014

Researchers say robotic gliders can decipher why Antarctic glaciers are melting bottom first, according to a report from Live Science. In 2012, scientists sent gliders to explore ice shelves in the Weddell Sea. The study lasted two months, with the robots reporting the sea’s temperature and salinity levels several times a day.

The research team discovered that eddies carrying warm water are the cause of the glaciers melting at the bottom. The results describe warm water’s journey from the deepest parts of the ocean through alternating layers of warm and cold water to the ice shelves. The research team’s next task is to discover what happens when the warm water reaches glacial grounding lines.

Top image: Researchers navigate their ship through the Weddell Sea. (Credit: Andrew Thompson / Caltech)

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