Pacific Ocean Waves Affect Antarctic Ice

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 12 (UPI) — Waves from the Pacific coasts of North and South America could play a role in the collapse of Antarctic ice shelves, scientists in California said.

Storms over the North Pacific Ocean may be transferring enough wave energy to destabilize Antarctic ice thousands of miles away, said scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego.


The storm-driven swells move across the Pacific Ocean and break along the coastlines of North and South America, where they are transformed into “infragravity waves” that move vast distances to Antarctica, researcher Peter Bromirski said in a recent issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Bromirski and co-authors Olga Sergienko of Princeton University and Douglas MacAyeal of the University of Chicago said a 2008 breakup of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica coincided with the arrival of infragravity waves.

New technology only recently has allowed scientists to deploy seismometers for the long periods of time needed to capture such wave signals on ice shelves, the scientists said.

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