In 2014, two West Antarctica studies focused on the acceleration of the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea
sector showed its collapse is underway.
The reported behaviour, however, would mean the south-western peninsula sector now has the second biggest input to that contribution behind the large glaciers that drain into the Amundsen Sea
even further to the south and west.
Starting in November this year, the iSTAR science programme will mount four projects focused on finding out what's causing the rapid changes observed in the Amundsen Sea
region of the West Antarctic ice sheet.
But on the west side of Antarctica, ice across an area roughly the size of Texas called the Amundsen Sea
Embayment (ASE) is already thinning rapidly in large part as a result of surrounding waters warming up due to changing ocean circulation patterns.
The pattern of imbalance is dominated by glaciers thinning in the Amundsen Sea
sector of West Antarctica.
We find that ice losses continue to be most pronounced along the fast-flowing ice streams of the Amundsen Sea
sector, with thinning rates of between 4 and 8 metres per year near to the grounding lines of the Pine Island, Thwaites and Smith Glaciers," lead author Dr Malcolm McMillan from the University of Leeds said.
The Amundsen Sea
region is a vulnerable area because its ice sheet is attached to a bed below sea level where warm water can be delivered by ocean currents to glacier grounding lines, the location where the ice attaches to the bed.
He will have more than just cold to worry about during the final two swims - at the Bay of Whales in the Ross Sea and Peter I Island in the Amundsen Sea
Of most concern, Harig said, is that this massive and accelerating loss occurred along West Antarctica's Amundsen Sea
, particularly Pine Island and the Thwaites Glacier, where heavy losses had already been recorded.
Similar studies of glaciers entering the Amundsen Sea
, some 1,200 miles away in West Antarctica, show them doubling their flow since the 1990s.
Around the Amundsen Sea
, we have surveyed a half dozen glaciers.
Some glaciers in Antarctica are flowing more quickly to the sea, with ominous potential implications for worldwide sea levels A paper in the online edition of the journal Science said glaciers flowing into the Amundsen Sea
were thinning twice as quickly as they were in the 1990s.