Antarctic Peninsula Ice Shelf Breakup A Threat

Warmer oceans and wind currents are causing the fear of an Antarctic Peninsula ice shelf breakup reported scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) group this week. This is the biggest ice shelf in the Antarctica region and is called the Larsen C ice shelf.

Scientists studying this situation said that they have found two reasons that are causing the ice shelf breakup of the Larsen C ice shelf. These are making the ice shelf unstable and much thinner than normal as the ice melts and will travel away from the shelf area.

Normally, these ice shelves are made of massive sheets of ice that float as they are hooked to the coastal grounds, as they are actually an extension of land ice shelves. The Larsen C ice shelf is known as the 4th biggest on the globe and is twice as big as the country of Belgium with a total mass of about 55,000 square kilometers or 34,175 square miles.

Ice Shelf Breakup Is Major Problem for Sea Levels of The World

If the ice shelf breakup causes a collapse and loss of the ice, scientists say it would have disastrous consequences for the ocean water levels of the world. This is because this would allow the glaciers that lay behind it to travel and flow much quicker and disappear into the sea.

The fears of a possible ice shelf breakup are not ungrounded, as two smaller ice shelves that were located on the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula have already fallen victim to an ice shelf breakup that happened over the past 20 years. The Larson A ice shelf fell in 1995 and the Larsen B ice shelf fell apart and made its travel into the ocean a several years later in 2002.

Antarctic Peninsula Warming Up Quickly

Scientists have discovered that the situation that could cause an ice shelf breakup is due to the fact that temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula have gone up about 2.5 degrees Celsius (36 ½ F°) in the past five decades. This information was discovered by using measurements received from satellites and radar surveys that were done between 1998 and 2012.

These measurements showed that the Larson C ice shelf has melted about four meters during that time, and has gotten about one meter thinner. This ice shelf breakup is being caused by the warm waters of the ocean flowing under it, combined with warm air coming from the snow’s surface in a honeycomb of snow known as firn, which makes the ice shelf weaker and less dense. The fears of an ice shelf breakup could come true in less than the next century if the causes of the data from the scientific study continue and nothing changes to stop global warming.