SEOUL, March 25 (Korea Bizwire) — A group of South Korean scientists has identified the role of Antarctic ice shelves, revealing that they function as barriers preventing warm sea water flowing in from outside, and slowing the melting of Antarctic glaciers.
The ice shelves are huge sheets of ice, hundreds of meters thick, that surround the Antarctic land mass. They control the flow of glaciers over the continent into the sea.
The Korea Polar Research Institute and Swedish researchers observed the Getz ice shelf in the Amundsen Sea of the South Pole, shutting out the external seawater from entering.
The 300 to 400 meter thick ice shelf was submerged in the ocean, creating a barrier.
Using the icebreaking vessel Araon, the research team measured the flow rate and changing salinity according to the depth of water over two years in the sea around the Getz ice shelf.
The results showed that the speed of warm seawater flowing to Antarctica decreased as it neared the ice shelf.
Only about 30 percent of the sea water is believed to affect melting at the bottom of the glacier beyond the ice shelf.
The team warned that the absence of ice shelves could increase the inflow of warm water into the lower part of the Antarctic glacier and accelerate the rise in sea level.
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)