New NASA study reveals that a very large ice shelf in Antarctica that partly collapsed in 2002 is dramatically weakening.
An ice shelf is a very consistent chunk of ice under the shape of a thick floating platform that forms where a glacier or an ice sheet flows down to a coastline and onto the ocean surface. The melting of an ice shelf allows rapid decline of glaciers, causing irreversible damage.
Report from NASA don’t sound very optimistic, predicting that all remains of the once massive ice shelf most likely will disappear completely before the end of this decade. An ice shelf functions as a barrier against the melting of giant glaciers and the weather events that cause ice shelves diminishing will affect all ice platforms that will diminish quickly, influencing the increasing pace at which global sea levels rise.
This 10.000 years old ice shelf flows very fast and becomes more and more fragmented. The constant flow creates large cracks in the ice shelf, making it more vulnerable to melting.
Ice shelves and glaciers seem to be melting at a fastened pace, with this particular one starting its melting process since 2002. It was actually a great event for the scientists who witnessed a giant ice shelf vanish rapidly in no more than six weeks. As fascinating as it sounds, this is very bad news for our planet and contributes actively and rapidly to global warming and a worrying raise in sea levels.
Global warming acts as a vicious circle that makes summers on Antarctic Peninsula warmer, causing glacier shifts and ice shells meltdowns, effects that in turn contribute to the global warming and sea levels rising.
This ice shelf named Larsen B used to measure 4.445 square miles in January 1995. Then it went down to 2.573 square miles in February 2002, a massive decrease. Only a month later, Larsen B was reduced to 1.337 square miles.
Now we have a very fragile ice shelf, of no more than 618 square miles. Despite the worrying predicaments, this is good insight for scientists to delve into how ice shelves closer to the South Pole are expected to react with the warming climate.
The changes come as a shocking surprise for the scientists, who can only witness this extremely rapid pace of melting of giant ice chunks. Each change in temperature both in the atmosphere and oceans, make ice shelves very fragile and sensitive. Larsen B is not the only ice shelf suffering a rapid meltdown. Other very consistent ice shelves have been affected over the years, reports reveal.
Image Source: vox.com