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Oceans Are Melting Glaciers from Below Much Faster than Predicted, Study Finds

Tidewater glaciers are being ‘eaten away on both ends’ as global warming worsens, suggesting faster sea level rise and ice melt that can alter ocean ecosystems.

Tidewater glaciers, like those seen by millions of tourists in Alaska's Glacier Bay, terminate at the ocean, where warming water and air temperatures can expedite melting, leading to more sea level rise. (Credit: Eric E. Castro/CC-BY0-3.0) Click to Enlarge.

Beneath the ocean’s surface, glaciers may be melting 10 to 100 times faster than previously believed, new research shows. 

Until now, scientists had a limited understanding of what happens under the water at the point where ice meets sea.  Using a combination of radar, sonar and time-lapse photography, a team of researchers has now provided the first detailed measurements of the underwater changes over time.  Their findings suggest that the theories currently used to gauge glacier change are underestimating glaciers’ ice loss.

“The overall trend of glacier retreat around the world is due to both warming air and warming oceans,” said David Sutherland, an oceanographer at the University of Oregon and lead author of the new study, published July 25 in the journal Science.

“They’re getting eaten away on both ends,” he said.

Read more at Oceans Are Melting Glaciers from Below Much Faster than Predicted, Study Finds

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