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Scientists Find Large Antarctic Ice Shelves Closer to Collapse Than They Thought

| May 19, 2015 Comment

Scientists find large Antarctic ice shelves closer to collapse than they thought – In 2002, two-thirds of the massive Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica disintegrated into the ocean, spawning hundreds to perhaps thousands of icebergs, in a span of just six weeks. That event stunned scientists, since it was unprecedented in at least 12,000 years of the ice shelf’s history.

Now it appears that the remaining portion of the Larsen B ice shelf, and an even larger ice shelf next door, known as Larsen C, are both on a course to oblivion, though exactly when they will meet their demise is up for debate. It could be as soon as next year, or as late as 250 years from now. But what is becoming increasingly clear to researchers is that these massive ice shelves — Larsen C is about the size of Scotland — and their upstream glaciers that were once thought to be stable, are more complex and far less healthy than they first thought.

What happens to these ice shelves and related glaciers in the rapidly warming Antarctic Peninsula are a global concern because they may affect how quickly and significantly sea levels will rise, potentially flooding coastal cities around the world.


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