Ocean heat is melting a floating ice shelf in East Antarctica, raising concerns of accelerated glacier discharge and sea-level rise.
East Antarctica's large ice sheet was thought to be more stable than that of West Antarctica. But Stephen Rintoul at the University of Tasmania in Hobart and his colleagues found that increasing ocean heat is weakening the Totten Ice Shelf in East Antarctica. The shelf supports glaciers whose volume is equivalent to 3.5 metres of global sea-level rise.
The team analysed oceanographic data collected in 2015 and found deep channels at the front of the ice shelf through which large volumes of temperate deep-ocean water flow into the ice shelf's cavity.