A significant amount of global warming and climate change conversations are centered on rising sea levels. One of the factors contributing to these increases is melting icebergs. To determine this rise in sea levels, it is currently assumed that icebergs melt at a uniform pace. However, that may not be the case.
A new study, which developed realistic small-scale iceberg models to study their melting tendencies in the ocean, found that iceberg melting depends on several factors and they certainly don’t melt uniformly.
“About 70 percent of the world’s freshwater is in the polar ice sheets and we know climate change is causing these ice sheets to shrink,” said Eric Hester, lead author of this study. “Some of this ice loss is direct from the ice sheets, but about half of the overall ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica happens when icebergs melt in the ocean, so understanding this process is important. Our model shows that icebergs are melting at faster rates than current models assume.”
This research suggests that the melting speeds and patterns of icebergs depend on their shape. It was observed that the sides of icebergs melt twice as fast as their bases. Moreover, it also found that the movement of an iceberg affects its melting, too. While it was previously assumed that stationary icebergs do not melt, the study found that they melt approximately a millimeter every minute. On the other hand, moving icebergs could be melting 3x-4x faster what was previously thought to be true.
The study, published in the Physical Review Fluids journal, could also help in better understanding the impact of melting icebergs on ocean currents.
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