Antarctica Ice Shelf Likely to Collapse Completely by 2020

posted: 05/15/15
by: Danny Clemens
Antarctica glacier
NSIDC/Ted Scambos

Scientists have been concerned about the Larsen B Ice Shelf in Antarctica since its partial collapse in 2002. A new study from NASA finds the shelf in its final days, with a complete collapse likely before 2020.

"These are warning signs that the remnant is disintegrating," remarked study lead author Ala Khazendar, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Although it's fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to watch the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it's bad news for our planet. This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone."

Khazendar and his team found that the glacier's water is flowing faster than ever, causing large cracks and thinning the ice significantly. Without ice shelves such as the Larsen B, glacial water flows uninhibited into the ocean, accelerating the rise of sea levels.

If the shelf's decomposition continues as forecast, a large portion of the glacier will break off and could push hundreds of icebergs further into the ocean.

"What is really surprising about Larsen B is how quickly the changes are taking place," added Khazendar. "Change has been relentless."

Click here for more information from NASA

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