Underwater glacial melting up to 100 times faster than thought, study finds
Existing models are ‘wildly inaccurate’ and significantly underestimated extent of melting, scientists say
25 July, 2019
Underwater glacial melting is happening up to 100 times faster than previously thought, a major study has found.
For the first time, researchers directly measured the melting of tidewater glaciers below the waterline.
They found existing models were “wildly inaccurate”.
Study co-author Rebecca Jackson, of Rutgers University-New Brunswick in the US, said: “We found that melt rates are significantly higher than expected across the whole underwater face of the glacier – in some places 100 times higher than theory would predict.”
Until now, scientists did not know how fast these glaciers – which are found in Greenland, Alaska and Antarctica – were melting under the surface.
Researchers previously used water and air temperature, as well as ocean currents, to measure the melt speed.
They used sonar to scan and profile the underwater face of the glacier. They also measured the speed of currents, temperature and salinity of the meltwater flow.