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World's biggest ice sheets likely more stable than previously believed
Date:5/16/2013

ce, and I shaped our understanding of the geology of the landscape we were looking at. This study would not have been possible without CIFAR."

The team studied the coast from Virginia to Florida, which has an ancient scarp tens of metres above present-day sea level. Until now, many research groups have studied this shoreline and concluded that during a warm period three million years ago, the Greenland, West Antarctic and a fraction of East Antarctic ice sheets collapsed, raising the sea level at least 35 metres. But the new findings by Rowley and his team suggest that these ice sheets, particularly the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (the world's largest), were probably more stable.

To do their study, the team used computer simulations to follow the movement of mantle and tectonic plates that occurred over time. Their prediction of how the ancient shoreline would have developed over millions of years matched what geologists mapping this ancient coast have observed. The next steps for the team are to try to make accurate predictions in other locations around the world.

"The paper is important because it shows that no prediction of ancient ice volumes can ever again ignore the Earth's interior dynamics," explains Rowley. "It also provides a novel bridge between two disciplines in Earth science that rarely intersect: mantle dynamics and long-term climate. It is the kind of study that changes how people think about our past climate and what our future holds."


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Contact: Margaret Mroziewicz
mmroziewicz@cifar.ca
416-971-4876
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research
Source:Eurekalert

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