The remaining part one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves will very likely fall apart in the next few years, according to a recent Nasa study.
The study examined the remnants of the Larsen B Ice Shelf, which has existed for at least 10,000 years but partially collapsed in 2002. This remnant is about half the size of Rhode Island. It is located in the Antarctic Peninsula extending toward the southern tip of South America.
Ala Khazendar is the lead scientist of the study published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. It was based on airborne surveys and radar data. Analysis of the data reveals that a widening rift in Larsen B will eventually break it apart completely, probably around the year 2020.
Once Larsen B disintegrates, glaciers held in place by the ice shelf will slip into the ocean at a faster rate and contribute to rising sea levels.
Also, according to the study, Leppard and Flask, two main glaciers terminating on the ice shelf, have thinned by between 65 and 72 feet in recent years. The pace of their shrinking has accelerated since after the 2002 partial collapse of the Larsen B.