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Ancient glacial melting process similar to existing concerns about Antarctica, Greenland
Date:8/1/2011

but less clear whether the events were a reaction to climate change or helped to cause them.

"There is now better evidence that the climate was getting colder prior to the Heinrich events, causing surface ocean waters to cool but actually causing warmer water in the subsurface," Marcott said. "We tried to demonstrate how this warmer water, at depth, caused the base of the ice shelf to warm and collapse, triggering the Heinrich events."

A present-day concern, Marcott said, is that ocean currents could shift and change direction even before overall ocean water had warmed a significant amount. If currents shifted and warmer water was directed toward ice shelves, more rapid melting might begin, he said.

This study was done by scientists from OSU, the University of Wisconsin, National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology. The lead author was Shaun Marcott, a postdoctoral researcher at OSU. The studies were supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA and other agencies.


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Contact: Shaun Marcott
marcotts@science.oregonstate.edu
541-737-1248
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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