Antarctic Ice Shelf Is A Few Years From Disintegration: NASA

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The last intact section of one of Antarctica’s mammoth ice shelves is weakening fast and will likely disintegrate completely in the next few years, contributing further to rising sea levels, according to a NASA study released on Thursday.

The research focused on a remnant of the so-called Larsen B Ice Shelf, which has existed for at least 10,000 years but partially collapsed in 2002. What is left covers about 625 square miles (1,600 square km), about half the size of Rhode Island.

Antarctica has dozens of ice shelves – massive, glacier-fed floating platforms of ice that hang over the sea at the edge of the continent’s coast line. The largest is roughly the size of France.

Larsen B is located in the Antarctic Peninsula, which extends toward the southern tip of South America and is one of two principal areas of the continent where scientists have documented the thinning of such ice formations.

“This study of the Antarctic Peninsula glaciers provides insights about how ice shelves farther south, which hold much more land ice, will react to a warming climate,” said Eric Rignot, co-author of the study and a glaciologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Almost 200 countries have agreed to negotiate a United Nations pact by the end of 2015 to combat global climate change, which most scientists expect will bring about more flooding, droughts, heat waves and higher seas.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has cited a probability of at least 95 percent that accelerated warming of the planet has been triggered by human activities, led by atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels.

The study, published online in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, was based on airborne surveys and radar data.

The study’s lead scientist, Ala Khazendar, said —> Read More