A recent study has revealed that warm winds pouring down the sides of the mountain range that runs the length of the Antarctic Peninsula are melting ice sheets up to 100 kilometres away. This melting of ice contributes to the rising sea levels.
According to reports, the winds could be behind the growing collection of pools and cracks on the Larson C ice sheet, which lies towards the tip of the peninsula and is looking particularly vulnerable. Its companions Larson A and Larson B broke off spectacularly in 1995 and 2002 respectively.
The study said that Föhn winds have now been identified as contributing as much as an extra 40 millimetres of melt across the ice sheet each year at a distance of 100km. These winds have much further-reaching effects than previously realised. They are also causing melting throughout the year, not just in summer time as was thought before.
The study author Jenny Turton of the British Antarctic Survey and the University of Leeds told a press conference at the EGU meeting in Vienna that the strongest effects of the winds are expected to be on the ice close to the mountain range.
"They're a lot more spatially extensive than we thought and also more frequent. Larson C is the size of Wales. So if this föhn happened in Snowdonia, you would still be able to feel the impacts at the English border," Turton said. In this gallery, IBTimes Singapore brings you a series of images of the threatened ice shelves and glaciers of The South Pole.