Speaker: Fabio Caratori Tontini, Marine Geophysicist at GNS Science in New Zealand
The floating Ross Ice Shelf is the size of Spain; the dark ocean cavity beneath the shelf is a blind spot in the global ocean system, one of the least understood marine environments on Earth.
The Ross Ice Shelf covers an area about the size of Spain, is up to 300m thick and helps slow the flow of about 20 percent of Antarctica’s grounded ice into the ocean. Allowing that amount of ice to flow into the ocean would result in about 12m of global sea level rise.
What goes on under that ice shelf, and what are the major influences on its melting? The ROSETTA-Ice programme collected data from this massive area by flying repeatedly to and fro with a Hercules C130 airplane carrying the IcePod instrument pod. Its instruments measure ice shelf height, thickness and internal structure, and the magnetic and gravity signal of the underlying rock.
Fabio Tontini will explain to us some of the surprising findings of the project, which show that we need to understand the details of local topography, ocean currents and weather to be able to make accurate predictions about future melting in a warming world.
Photo credits and links
The IcePod flying over the the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Photo: Winnie Chu