An international team of scientists has used helicopters to observe warm ocean water flowing from the open ocean into ice shelf cavities in East Antarctica for the first time. The team gathered temperature and other data at 67 sites off the Totten Ice Shelf, which is part of the Totten Glacier. The Totten Glacier is of great concern because if it melted completely, global sea levels could rise by nearly four meters. Previous observations in this region have been difficult due to intense sea ice and icebergs. The researchers used helicopters to drop sensors into the ocean to measure underwater temperatures and salinity. They discovered that warm water is flowing toward the Totten Ice Shelf over a 150-kilometer range. The study also showed that helicopters are a cost-effective and efficient method of conducting this type of research. Icebreakers can then be used to observe the identified pathways in more detail. The study was a joint effort by multiple institutions, and the results were published in the scientific journal “Geophysical Research Letters”.
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