A rapid shift in ocean currents could imperil the world’s largest ice shelf

Antarctica’s largest ice shelf, buttressing a dozen major glaciers and slowing their flow into the ocean, may be surprisingly sensitive to warming.

Several thousand years ago, the Ross Ice Shelf and the glaciers feeding it thinned dramatically, causing sea level to rise. A new study, published April 23 in Nature Communications, suggests this was triggered by a rearrangement of ocean currents set off by a minor amount of ocean warming — just half a degree Celsius.

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