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The Big Thaw! New theory for why glaciers melt

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The Big Thaw! New theory for why glaciers melt

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Scientists studying East Greenland’s ice sheet have discovered that subtropical waters are flushing through the frozen region.

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts have been testing the chilly waters with probes plunged into the depths of a fjord. Their findings confirm there’s been a battle going on in the murky depths of the Northern Atlantic. The Arctic waters that normally dominate this region have given way to an influx of subtropical water carried north by westward branches of the current known as the Gulf Stream. Research leader, Fiamma Straneo, said the research could help explain why glaciers have been melting more quickly this past decade: “The waters around Greenland have been warming. We know that there is more subtropical water offshore and we’ve had some evidence from other fjords that perhaps subtropical waters can make their way into the fjords,” Straneo said. “So, it’s really one of the leading hypotheses in trying to understand what’s been happening to the ice sheet,” she continued. Rising ocean temperatures are the key to this change. Meteorologists say from June to August this year, ocean surface temperatures were the warmest since 1880. They blame El Nino weather patterns and man-made global warming. The marine ecosystem in Northern Atlantic has been particularly affected, with fish travelling north into waters previously too cold for them and polar bear and seal finding their habitat melting away.