Satellite documents thinning ice shelf
April 5th, 2012
05:46 PM ET

Satellite documents thinning ice shelf

A European satellite has observed a rapid retreat of one of Antarctica's ice shelves, which is half the size it was 10 years ago, the European Space Agency said Thursday.

The agency's Envisat satellite shows part of the Larsen Ice Shelf, which lies on a peninsula south of Chile, has decreased from 3,463 square kilometers (1,337 square miles) in March 2002 to 1,670 square kilometers (645 square miles) today, a change the European Space Agency blames on warmer temperatures.

"Ice shelves are sensitive to atmospheric warming and to changes in ocean currents and temperatures," Helmut Rott from the University of Innsbruck said in an statement from the space agency. "The northern Antarctic Peninsula has been subject to atmospheric warming of about 2.5 degrees Celsius (36.5 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last 50 years - a much stronger warming trend than on global average, causing retreat and disintegration of ice shelves."

The waning is happening on the Larsen B ice shelf, one of three shelves that make up the Larsen Ice Shelf.

Larsen A disintegrated in January 1995. Larsen C has so far been stable, the space agency said, though satellites have observed some recent thinning and melting.

Larsen B measured 11,512 square kilometers in January 1995. It went down to 6,664 square kilometers in February 2002 after several parts broke off, and a month later Larsen B was down to 3,463 square kilometers.

The space agency says the satellite's observations confirm the vulnerability of the ice shelves to climatic warming.

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Filed under: Global Warming • On Earth
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Satellite Receiver

    Awesome pricing on FTA Free to Air Satellite Receivers and Dishes. Standard definition FTA satellite receivers, just $35. 120cm KU dishes, just $159. Free shipping on everything.

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    April 17, 2012 at 2:11 am |
  2. Kenneth

    The Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion in this article is incorrect. The formula for °C to °F is 1.8°C+32=°F, however this conversion is for actual temperature (i.e. If the temperature outside is 2.5°C, that converts to 36.5°F). The article mentions atmospheric warming, which is not actual temperature but an increase in temp. An increase of 2.5°C equals 4.5°F (multiply °C by 1.8). Would the publisher please correct the °F value.

    April 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  3. teabagger

    Yeah, okay, you're an idiot !!

    April 7, 2012 at 2:08 am |
  4. intothemoonbeam

    The teabaggers will like this article, since they believe global warming is a hoax. They also believe overpopulation is a hoax, the dinosaurs are a hoax, evolution is a hoax, the big bang is hoax, the moon landing was a hoax, the Earth is not the center of the universe is a hoax and the fact that are oil and fresh water supplies are very limited is a hoax. Am I missing anything else? Help me out teabaggers.

    April 6, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  5. WhatNow

    More real evidence that the self-involved will choose to ignore. It's just so much easier not to believe in climate change. That way, you don't actually have to give up your lifestyle. What a sad society we have become.

    April 6, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  6. Jeff

    Some people global warming is a result of human activity, the use of fossil fuels and in general our production of pollution. They other believe a majority of this warming comes from the Sun. In this case, I think both have this exceptional warming. One thing for sure, we do not control the sun and we do have of our activity.

    April 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm |


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