From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Ross Ice Shelf
Mains level : Consequences of climate change
- Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest ice shelf roughly the size of France is melting rapidly.
Ross Ice Shelf
- An international team of scientists has found out that this ice shelf is melting 10 times faster than the overall average, due to solar heating of the surrounding ocean surface.
- The melting ice shelf has led to global sea-level rise of around 13.8mm over the last 40 years.
- Solar heating of the surrounding ocean surface spurred the rate at which the ice is melting.
- Using instruments deployed through a 260 metre-deep borehole, the team measured temperature, salinity, melt rates and ocean currents in the cavity under the ice.
- Earlier, scientists believed that heat radiating to the bottom melted the underside of the shelf, while the ocean surface cooled down quickly.
- However, the latest findings show that heat in the ocean surface plays a crucial role.
Why is it alarming?
- Antarctica comprises 90 per cent of the world’s ice.
- The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest ice shelf of Antarctica (as of 2013 an area of roughly 500,809 square kilometres and about 800 kilometres across: about the size of France)
- If this situation continues, sea-levels would rise up to 60 metres by 2050 — and the ocean would engulf coastal cities across the globe.