The last remaining section of Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf — which serves as a barrier to keep glaciers from melting into the ocean — is rapidly disintegrating and expected to disappear by 2020, according to a new NASA study
With the disintegration of ice shelves, described by CNN
as thick floating platforms of ice, glaciers melt more quickly and global sea levels rise more rapidly, posing "a severe threat to countries worldwide as well as people’s livelihoods," Pioneer News
The disintegration of the 10,000-year-old Larsen B Ice Shelf, which encompasses 625 square miles along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, south of Argentina, is attributed to continuous warm summers on the peninsula, dating to 2002, according to NASA.
The unusually warm season resulted in 1,250 square miles of the ice shelf collapsing in just more than a month, according to Pioneer News.
Scientists predict that the entire shelf will experience a "huge crack" that will send smaller icebergs into the ocean, moving nearby glaciers into the sea.
"Scientists are worried that warmer temperatures have contributed to a fast-moving melt which is now irreversible," Pioneer News reported.
Atmospheric warming and ocean temperature fluctuations greatly impact ice shelves, the University of Innsbruck’s Helmut Rott told CNN after the European Space Agency observed a rapid retreat of Larsen B Ice Shelf in April 2012 via satellite images.
Larsen Ice Shelf A disintegrated in January 1995, and there’s evidence that Larsen Ice Shelf C has been thinning and melting, though it remains "somewhat stable."
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