The collapse of a giant Antarctic ice shelf in 2002 was caused by rising air temperatures, according to new research.
[Blue & Green Tomorrow is currently running a crowdfunder to ensure its survival. Please pledge.]
During the Antarctic summer of 2002 Larsen-B – a 3,250 sq km section of the Larsen Ice Shelf on Antarctica’s east coast – collapsed into the sea. In just a month, a bloc of ice larger than Luxembourg disintegrated completely.
Until now, experts had been unsure what caused the loss of Larsen-B, with some suggesting it may have been weakened by warmer water below, where the ice sheet grounded on the sea bed.
However, in a new study published in the journal Science, researchers disprove this hypothesis. They found evidence that water had flowed freely beneath the ice sheet for 12,000 years – suggesting Larsen-B’s base has been stable for more than a millennium.
Instead, the paper suggests the collapse was a result of surface warming, caused when melt and rain water seeped into the deep cracks found across Larsen-B during warmer months.
Over time, this water freezes and expands, widening these cracks, in a process known as hydrofracturing. Eventually, the ice sheet could no longer take the pressure and snapped, fracturing into thousands of icebergs.
The study’s authors hope that their findings will help scientists identify when other ice sheets are at risk, using summer meltwater as an early warning sign.
Larsen-B was the second section of the Larsen Ice Shelf to collapse, after Larsen-A was lost in 1995. Some scientists believe Larsen-C may now be thinning too.
Recent studies have suggested that Antarctic ice sheets could be melting at a faster pace than previously thought, contributing to rising sea levels and posing a risk to coastal megacities, from New York to Shanghai.
Currently, Antarctica contributes less than 10% towards global sea level rise, but it is feared that manmade climate change could accelerate this ice loss.
Recently, scientists also confirmed that the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet has begun and is now irreversible. This alone means global sea levels will inevitably rise by up to 4 metres (13ft).
Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr
Like our Facebook Page
How to Recycle Books: 7 Easy Steps
How to Raise Money for Your Non-Profit or Charity: 7 Steps to Take
Solar-Powered Solutions for Lowering City Infrastructure Carbon Footprint
How to Prioritize Sustainability When Studying Abroad
EHS Management is Making the Construction Industry Greener
Best Sustainable Practices in the Construction Industry in 2024
Comparing Renewable Energy: Solar Power, Wind, Hydro & Bio
Maximizing Home Efficiency: The Renewable Way
10 Easy Ways To Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly
Energy Management Mastery: 4 Tips for Green Property Owners
Insider Tips for an Eco-Friendly Dubai Vacation in 2024
Polythene Bags and Food Safety: Crucial Role in Food Packaging
5 Tips for Creating a Sustainable Living Space
Solo Eco-Tourism Misconceptions That Need To Be Debunked
Embracing Sustainability: 7 Tips for Eco-Friendly Shopping
Crypto Market Makers Are Becoming More Eco-Friendly
Eco-Friendly Benefits of Energy Efficient Mortgages
Experience Thailand at Sea Yacht Chartering as an Eco-Tourist
5 Reasons Eco-Tourists Should Plan a Barcelona Getaway
Ocean Stewardship: The New Frontier for Charitable Giving
- Features8 months ago
What is the Eco-Friendliest Option to Wash Your Dishes?
- Environment12 months ago
6 Home Improvements You Can Make to Help the Environment
- Editors Choice11 months ago
7 Tips to Minimize the Negative Impact Businesses Have on the Environment
- Environment12 months ago
The Truth About The Environmental Impact of Dogs