Antarctic sea ice is melting because of strong winds

The West Antarctic ice shelf is rapidly melting away because of 435mph winds which are driven by climate change, a new study has found.

Strong gusts from the eastern coast are driving waves of warm water towards the ice, which is now melting at a faster rate than once believed, according to scientists.

This is fuelling the breaking off of vast icebergs in the West Antarctic – such as the iceberg on the Larsen C ice-shelf last week.

The iceberg weighs a staggering trillion tons and has an area of 2,239 sq miles (5,800 sq km), making roughly the size of Delaware, or equivalent to the size of Wales.

Scroll down for video 

This image shows the path of ocean waves push warm waters under the ice shelves of the West Antarctic Peninsula (seen top). These waves are generated by ultra-fast winds

This image shows the path of ocean waves push warm waters under the ice shelves of the West Antarctic Peninsula (seen top). These waves are generated by ultra-fast winds

WHY IS THE ICE MELTING? 

New research has revealed how strong winds from the east of Antarctica are driving the high rate of ice melt along the West Antarctic Peninsula.

Researchers found that the winds in East Antarctica can travel across the continent at almost 435mph (700km/h) via a type of ocean wave known as a Kelvin wave.

When these waves encounter the steep underwater cliffs off the West Antarctic Peninsula they push warmer water towards the large ice shelves along the shoreline.

The warm Antarctic Circumpolar Current passes quite close to the continental shelf in this region, providing a source for this warm water.

'It is this combination of available warm water offshore, and a transport of this warm water onto the shelf, that has seen rapid ice shelf melt along the West Antarctic sector over the past several decades,' said lead researcher Dr Paul Spence from the University of New South Wales in Australia. 

In the latest study, researchers found climate change has caused water close to south pole to warm, as well as the increased frequency of strong winds in the region.

They looked at how strong winds from the east of Antarctica are driving the high rate of ice melt along the West Antarctic Peninsula.

Researchers found that the winds in East Antarctica can travel across the continent at almost 435mph (700km/h) via a type of ocean wave known as a Kelvin wave.

When these waves encounter the steep underwater cliffs off the West Antarctic Peninsula they push warmer water towards the large ice shelves along the shoreline.

The warm Antarctic Circumpolar Current passes quite close to the continental shelf in this region, providing a source for this warm water.

'It is this combination of available warm water offshore, and a transport of this warm water onto the shelf, that has seen rapid ice shelf melt along the West Antarctic sector over the past several decades,' said lead researcher Dr Paul Spence from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

'We always knew warm water was finding its way into this area but the precise mechanism has remained unclear.

The graphic above shows rates of thickness change around the Antarctic coastline with areas of most loss in the past 18 years indicated by red circles and areas where ice has increased shown by blue circles

The graphic above shows rates of thickness change around the Antarctic coastline with areas of most loss in the past 18 years indicated by red circles and areas where ice has increased shown by blue circles

ANTARCTIC TEMPERATURES REACH RECORD HIGH 

Antarctica experienced its highest temperatures on record in March, according to meteorologists.

A research base near the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula has set a heat record at 17.5°C (63.5°F).

The Experanza base set the high on March 24, 2015, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said after reviewing data that was taken at the station.

'Verification of maximum and minimum temperatures help us to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth's final frontiers,' said Michael Sparrow, a polar expert with the World Climate Research Programme.

'That remote winds on the opposite side of Antarctica can cause such a substantial subsurface warming is a worrying aspect of the circulation at the Antarctic margin.'

The changes in

read more from dailymail.....

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

PREV Disney's AR headset will feature a new Star Wars game
NEXT Technology Redfin files to raise $100 million in an IPO as the online real estate broker ...