Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Commun. 2014 Apr 22;5:3707. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4707.

Marine ice regulates the future stability of a large Antarctic ice shelf.

Author information

1
Glaciology Group, College of Science, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK.
2
1] Glaciology Group, College of Science, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK [2].
3
British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK.
4
Rock and Ice Physics Laboratory and Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.

Abstract

The collapses of the Larsen A and B ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula in 1995 and 2002 confirm the impact of southward-propagating climate warming in this region. Recent mass and dynamic changes of Larsen B's southern neighbour Larsen C, the fourth largest ice shelf in Antarctica, may herald a similar instability. Here, using a validated ice-shelf model run in diagnostic mode, constrained by satellite and in situ geophysical data, we identify the nature of this potential instability. We demonstrate that the present-day spatial distribution and orientation of the principal stresses within Larsen C ice shelf are akin to those within pre-collapse Larsen B. When Larsen B's stabilizing frontal portion was lost in 1995, the unstable remaining shelf accelerated, crumbled and ultimately collapsed. We hypothesize that Larsen C ice shelf may suffer a similar fate if it were not stabilized by warm and mechanically soft marine ice, entrained within narrow suture zones.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center