Research Highlights | Published:

Ocean science

East Antarctic ice melts from below

Nature volume 540, page 487 (22 December 2016) | Download Citation

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.

About this article

Publication history





    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing