The speed at which the Ross Ice Shelf is melting is a matter of worry for scientists because they attribute this to be “solar heating of the surrounding Antarctica Ocean.” The shelf is a massive block of ice with most of it submerged below sea level. An international team of scientists conducted an exercise spread out over four years to ascertain how the shelf behaved with the ocean beneath it. They selected the northwest portion for the study and concluded that rate of melting of the ice was faster than previously thought.

The Independent UK reports that the study revealed a link between the melting of the Ross Ice Shelf and the rise in temperature of the surrounding water. It also added that such an interaction between the ice and the ocean would lead to a long-term effect of a rise in sea level. There have been instances of ice shelves disappearing due to Global warming. However, the enormous size of this particular shelf and its aftereffects, if its melting is not arrested, is a serious matter.

Magnitude of the problem of melt

The Ross Ice Shelf is a creation of nature. Massive chunks of ice break away from ice shelves and keep floating away from the source. They ultimately melt due to the surrounding heat and add to the rising sea level. When it comes down to something like this particular ice shelf, it becomes a matter of concern.

That's because the melting of such a volume of ice due to global warming could mean a sea level rise of the order of 16ft. The situation would be alarming because coastal regions will feel the effect, get submerged or disappear totally.

The team relied on standard methods to gather necessary data to arrive at the findings.

The Independent UK says they made use of dedicated instruments to keep track of changes in various relevant parameters. One of their findings was that solar-heated surface water entered the cavity under the ice shelf near Ross Island and the melt rates rose considerably during summer months because of global warming.

Scientists raise the alarm

According to Sky News, scientists of Cambridge University investigated the loss of ice from the northwest portion of the Ross Ice Shelf and announced that the world's largest ice shelf is melting at a very fast rate The team says melting is 10 times faster than expected and they blame it on the warming of the sea around it.

The conclusion is that the floating slab of Antarctic ice, the size of France and several hundred meters thick, is vulnerable to global warming.

Scientists have brought out the fact that the loss of ice shelves has a direct bearing on sea level rise. Former Cambridge scientist Dr Craig Stewart was associated with the study. He said, “Climate change is likely to result in less sea ice, and higher surface ocean temperatures in the Ross Sea, suggesting that melt rates in this region will increase in the future."

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