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Antarctic Melt Could Be Influenced by Gravity and Earth Structure • Mirror Daily

Piece of Antarctic ice breaking off from the main ice sheet.

(Mirror Daily, United States)- Antarctic melt could be influenced by gravity and Earth structure according to a new research conducted at McGill University in Montreal.  The findings suggest that the anticipated melting of the Antarctic ice because of climate change could be slowed down by both the fluid rock beneath the Earth’s surface and the strong gravitational pull created by the massive ice sheet.

Natalya Gomez, lead author of the study and assistant professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at McGill University in Montreal, explains that computer models currently generated to emulate the effects of climate change on the Antarctic ice are not focusing on these two factors and their influence on the rate at which the ice will be melting at.

While these models estimate either carbon dioxide emissions or the rise in global sea levels due to climate change and the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet as a consequence of the global warming, the models would need to also take into consideration how the fluid bedrock on which the ice sheets rest on react in combination with the strong gravitational pull that these ice sheets create.

A big and often overlooked factor in the melting of Antarctic ice sheets is how much gravity will affect the pace at which ice sheets melt in the future, as large bodies such as these sheets of ice apply a gravitational pull on surrounding bodies, even on water. As the ice sheet melts, it is expected that the gravitational pull will reduce to an extent that will abruptly lower sea levels near the ice as well as the pace at which the ice sheet melts, eventually.

Another factor that current computer generated models fail to take into account, according to the study’s author, is the Earth’s structure. This is an important variable as, when the ice sheet retreats, the earth beneath it becomes freed from the massive amount of ice on top of it and rebounds. As the rebound happens in an upward direction the mantle underneath the solid Earth surface acts as a flowing liquid.

This rebound process happens at a quicker pace near the edge of the ice sheet while it is retreating, according to researcher’s simulations. This causes the water along the retreating edge to become shallower, which in turn slows down the retreat of the ice sheet itself.

Authors of the study explain that the carbon dioxide emissions, a vital factor in the melting of the Antarctic ice, must be curbed and that, in doing so, other factors will also be helped to contribute to slowing down the melting process.

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