(CNN)Scientists have discovered that ocean water warmed by the sun is melting part of the world's largest ice shelf 10 times faster than the overall average.
World's largest ice shelf melting 10 times faster than the average
The north-west sector of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, which in total is roughly the size of France, is melting far faster than scientists previously thought, according to a press release from the University of Cambridge.
And scientists have identified an unlikely culprit: inflowing warm water from the ocean's surface.
"The stability of ice shelves is generally thought to be related to their exposure to warm deep ocean water, but we've found that solar heated surface water also plays a crucial role in melting ice shelves," said lead study author Craig Stewart from New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).