Channelised ice shelf melting. Animation showing satellite monitoring of ice shelf thickness. Floating ice shelves, such as the Dotson Ice Shelf in West Antarctica, are vulnerable to melting by the ocean below. Ocean productivity hotspots show where the ice is melting, releasing nutrient-rich fresh water into the ocean. Ice shelf elevation and thickness can be measured by satellites equipped with radar altimeters. The European Space Agency's CryoSat has an interferometric swath mode that allows much more detailed elevation measurements than previous altimeters. Repeat surface height observations from CyroSat show a thinning of the ice shelf from 2011 to 2016, especially along a channel on its western side. Focused thinning at current rates (average basal melt of 6.1 metres per year, rising to 14 metres per year beneath the channel) would see the channel melt through within 40-50 years, making the ice shelf more vulnerable to collapse. For this clip without captions, see K008/6535.
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