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El Nino hastens the melting of Antarctic ice shelves

Posted January. 09, 2018 09:11,   

Updated January. 09, 2018 09:33


Experts have found that El Nino, which is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, is causing the melting of ice shelves in the Antarctica.

Massive chunks of ice afloat the oceans adjoining the Antarctic Continent, ice shelves are dubbed as the “struts of the Antarctic glacier.” While there have been a number of analyses pointing to a causal relationship between El Nino and the melting of ice shelves, this marks the first time that such hypothesis has been proved by observation.

On Monday, the Nature Geoscience reported that based on the analysis of satellite observations from 1994 to 2017, a team of researchers led by Fernando S. Paolo, a postdoc researcher at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, found that an influx of warm ocean water from El Nino caused a dramatic melting of ice shelves of the Amundsen Sea.

El Nino refers to a phenomenon where the ocean temperatures of the tropical east and central pacific off Peru and Chile continue to hover higher than the average for months. By contrast, La Nina is characterized by unusually cold sea temperatures in the same affected areas. The two phenomena occur alternately every two to five years, but recently, El Nino is seen more frequently than La Nina owing to the growing influence of global warming.