February 23, 2021
Glaciers surrounding the Amundsen Sea in Antarctica have been rapidly melting. As glaciers flow out from land to the ocean, large expanses of ice behind their leading edges float on the seawater. The point on a glacier where it first loses contact with land is called the grounding line. Nearly all glacier melt occurs on the underside of the glacier beyond the grounding line, on the section floating on seawater as the warmer ocean currents erode the base of the floating ice.
This visualization shows ocean currents circulating Pine Island Bay and flowing under Pine Island Glacier. The visualization approaches the glacier, dives beneath the water, and views the ocean flows circulating beneath the floating ice. For more clarity, the surface of the ice sheet is exaggerated by 4x while the topography below sea level is exaggerated by 15x.