Ice Sheets on the Move

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Science  13 Dec 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5601, pp. 2147-2148
DOI: 10.1126/science.1079169

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Are today's polar ice sheets in danger of collapse? Even with climate warming, increases in snowfall should compensate for additional melting of the ice sheets, but ice flow speeds can change abruptly by orders of magnitude. In his Perspective, Raymond reviews recent advances toward understanding the dynamics of ice sheets. Spatial connections in basal lubrication help to explain how speed changes can spread over large areas from localized triggers. But it remains unclear how quickly flow acceleration can be initiated at low elevation and spread deep into the interiors of ice sheets.