Thermodynamics of the interaction between ice shelves and the sea
An ice shelf is a floating ice sheet, attached to land where ice is grounded along the coastline. Nourished both by surface snow accumulation and by glaciers and ice sheets flowing off the land, ice shelves can reach a considerable thickness, varying from up to 1 300 m when the ice starts to float to 200 m or less at the seaward edge (known as the ice front). Nearly all the world's ice shelves are found in Antarctica, where they cover an area of about one and a half million square kilometres. The two largest are the Ross Ice Shelf and the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf, each with an area of about half a million square kilometres. Smaller ice shelves fringe other parts of the Antarctic coastline.