Ice shelf melting 10 times faster than expected

Last updated at 05:17
Ross ice shelf in the Ross Sea, AntarcticaGetty Images

Scientists say a piece of the world's largest ice shelf is melting 10 times faster than expected.

The section of the Ross Ice Shelf, which is near the South Pole, covers 190,000 square miles - nearly the size of Spain.

However, it is reducing in size due to the surrounding Antarctic Ocean warming up.

The shelf is several hundred metres thick, with 90% of the ice hidden below the sea level.

The-team-of-scientists-set-up-camp.NIWA
The team of scientists set up camp in order to drill 260 metres into the ice

The team of scientists lowered equipment down a 260m-deep hole, measuring the water temperature, melting rates and ocean currents.

One of the scientists, Dr Craig Stewart from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, says this could carry on getting worse.

"Climate change is likely to result in less sea ice and higher surface ocean temperatures in the Ross Sea, suggesting that melt rates will continue to increase" he said.