↓ Skip to main content

Antarctic ice shelf potentially stabilized by export of meltwater in surface river

Overview of attention for article published in Nature, April 2017
Altmetric Badge

About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (89th percentile)

Mentioned by

35 news outlets
8 blogs
252 tweeters


50 Dimensions

Readers on

145 Mendeley
1 CiteULike
Antarctic ice shelf potentially stabilized by export of meltwater in surface river
Published in
Nature, April 2017
DOI 10.1038/nature22048
Pubmed ID

Robin E. Bell, Winnie Chu, Jonathan Kingslake, Indrani Das, Marco Tedesco, Kirsty J. Tinto, Christopher J. Zappa, Massimo Frezzotti, Alexandra Boghosian, Won Sang Lee


Meltwater stored in ponds and crevasses can weaken and fracture ice shelves, triggering their rapid disintegration. This ice-shelf collapse results in an increased flux of ice from adjacent glaciers and ice streams, thereby raising sea level globally. However, surface rivers forming on ice shelves could potentially export stored meltwater and prevent its destructive effects. Here we present evidence for persistent active drainage networks-interconnected streams, ponds and rivers-on the Nansen Ice Shelf in Antarctica that export a large fraction of the ice shelf's meltwater into the ocean. We find that active drainage has exported water off the ice surface through waterfalls and dolines for more than a century. The surface river terminates in a 130-metre-wide waterfall that can export the entire annual surface melt over the course of seven days. During warmer melt seasons, these drainage networks adapt to changing environmental conditions by remaining active for longer and exporting more water. Similar networks are present on the ice shelf in front of Petermann Glacier, Greenland, but other systems, such as on the Larsen C and Amery Ice Shelves, retain surface water at present. The underlying reasons for export versus retention remain unclear. Nonetheless our results suggest that, in a future warming climate, surface rivers could export melt off the large ice shelves surrounding Antarctica-contrary to present Antarctic ice-sheet models, which assume that meltwater is stored on the ice surface where it triggers ice-shelf disintegration.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 252 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 145 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 5 3%
Japan 1 <1%
United Kingdom 1 <1%
Unknown 138 95%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 38 26%
Researcher 37 26%
Student > Master 15 10%
Student > Bachelor 9 6%
Professor 9 6%
Other 19 13%
Unknown 18 12%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Earth and Planetary Sciences 94 65%
Environmental Science 12 8%
Physics and Astronomy 3 2%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 3 2%
Chemistry 2 1%
Other 7 5%
Unknown 24 17%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 525. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 14 February 2019.
All research outputs
of 15,406,353 outputs
Outputs from Nature
of 74,569 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 267,248 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Nature
of 774 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 15,406,353 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 74,569 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 83.8. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 96% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 267,248 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 774 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 89% of its contemporaries.