Vast ice shelves in the Antarctic have disappeared as a direct result of climate change. Satellite images have shown that as much as 85% of the ice shelves have melted away over the past 17 years. Scientist are saying that the ice is extremely sensitive to the slightest changes in temperature.A VAST ice shelf in the Antarctic peninsula, a hot-spot for global warming, has shrunk by 85 per cent in 17 years, the European Space Agency (ESA) says. Images taken by its Envisat satellite show that the so-called Larsen B ice shelf decreased from 11,512 square kilometres in 1995 to only 1670 sq km today.
Larsen B is one of three ice shelves that run from north to south along the eastern side of the peninsula, the tongue of land that projects towards South America.
From 1995 to 2002, Larsen B experienced several calving events in which parts of the shelf broke away. It had a major break-up in 2002 when half of the remainder disintegrated.
Larsen A broke up in January 1995.
“Larsen C so far has been stable in area, but satellite observations have shown thinning and an increasing duration of melt events in summer,” the agency said.
Ice shelves are thick floating mats of ice, attached to the shore, that are created by the runoff into the sea from glaciers.
Scientists say they are extremely sensitive to changes in atmospheric temperature and can be hollowed out from below by warmer ocean currents.
The northern Antarctic peninsula has been subject to atmospheric warming about 2.5C over the past 50 years, a figure that is several times greater than the global average.
News Source: News.com.au