The more the glacier’s grounding line backs down the slope, the thicker the ice becomes. This means the ice can flow outward faster and also that more of it will be exposed to ocean waters capable of melting it. “In this configuration, it means that once the glacier starts retreating, it’s very hard to stop it,” said [Earth system science Professor] Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine, one of the study’s authors. “You sort of open the floodgates.”

Monday, March 23, 2020