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Glacier flowing onto the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf. The Filchner-Ronne appears particularly vulnerable to changes in tides, potentially leading to feedbacks on ice shelf/sheet dynamics Credit: NASA / James Yungel (Creative Commons licence)

A recent paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research demonstrates the potential effects tides can have on ice sheet dynamics in Antarctica.

The study by a team consisting of Sebastian Rosier, Mattias Green, and  James Scourse (Bangor University) finds that if as a result of global warming the ice shelves in Antarctica thin or reduce in size, then there will be tidal feedbacks that will likely further destabilise the remaining ice shelves, so promoting their rapid loss.

Without the protection of the ice shelves the land-based ice streams will become unbuttressed, transferring ice mass from the continent into the ocean with implications for global sea levels.

Rosier, S. H. R., J. A. M. Green, J. D. Scourse, and R. Winkelmann (2014), Modeling Antarctic tides in response to ice shelf thinning and retreat, J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 119