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NASA Earth Science: Antartica Ice Shelf Collapse

January 13, 2011

NASA has an excellent article on Antartica and related issues surrounding ice sheet melt off. Here are a few resources covering this topic.

NASA Feature: Is Antartica Melting?

The retreat of West Antarctica’s glaciers is being accelerated by ice shelf collapse. Ice shelves are the part of a glacier that extends past the grounding line towards the ocean they are the most vulnerable to warming seas. A longstanding theory in glaciology is that these ice shelves tend to buttress (support the end wall of) glaciers, with their mass slowing the ice movement towards the sea, and this was confirmed by the spectacular collapse of the Rhode Island-sized Larsen B shelf along the Eastern edge of the Antarctic Peninsula in 2002. The disintegration, which was caught on camera by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imaging instruments on board its Terra and Aqua satellites, was dramatic: it took just three weeks to crumble a 12,000-year old ice shelf. Over the next few years, satellite radar data showed that some of the ice streams flowing behind Larsen B had accelerated significantly, while others, still supported by smaller ice shelves, had not 9. This dynamic process of ice flowing downhill to the sea is what enables Antarctica to continue losing mass even as surface melting declines.

NASA Global Climate Change Compare recent stats with 2009 stats and view video. There are numerous related articles at this site.

NOVA Special on Antartica I viewed recently. Warnings of the Ice almanac, click here

Related Information:

From my own backyard, Scripps Institute of Oceanography reported last year:

Scripps Institution of Oceanography / University of California, San Diego
Depicting a cause-and-effect scenario that spans thousands of miles, a scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and his collaborators discovered that ocean waves originating along the Pacific coasts of North and South America impact Antarctic ice shelves and could play a role in their catastrophic collapse.

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