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Ice Shelving

13 February 2010

www.physorg.com February 11th … a study published in Geophysical Research Letters describes how ocean waves originating along the Pacific coasts of North and South America travel across the ocean to impact on Antarctica and it’s ice shelves – those below water in the West Antarctic peninsular I assume. These waves lead to periodic collapse of the ice shelves as over time they contribute to the expansion and/or production of crevasse fields on those ice shelves. This is now thought to be the trigger mechanism to their eventual collapse, including the 2008 Wilkins Ice Shelf break-up that was prominent in media stories. Note, in the abstract AGW is not blamed but if funding was involved expect that to be mentioned somewhere. The waves themselves have an origin in storms along the Pacific coast of the Americas – and presumably other factors need to be taken into account. A previous study claimed that currents of warm water with an origin in the Pacific tropical region (along the line of the equator) moved warm surface water towards the Antarctic and this was responsible for the shelving – as no land mass stood between the tropics and the Antarctic.

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