Tag Archives: Antarctica

Watching the WAIS line

Antarctica unimpressed with GOP declarations that global warming is a myth

February 4th 2012

 Back in the summer of 2002, February and the first week of March, the Larsen B ice shelf on the east coast of the Antarctic peninsula suddenly and shockingly disintegrated. For people who had complacently assumed that Antarctic was too cold for global warming to have an effect, it was a wake up call.

The ice shelf didn’t just calve off the way the sheets of ice pushed into the ocean by the glaciers that formed them always do. If that were the case, it would have made for a big iceberg, about the size of Rhode Island, but nothing too extraordinary. Calving is the inevitable fate of ice pushed into the ocean by the glaciers. And the Larsen B, like the Larsen A before it, was expected to break off. Larsen A broke off in 1995, but since it was only 4,000 years old and was showing signs of calving, it came as no surprise to anyone. But Larsen B, older than the Holocene, was believed to be more stable, and would take much longer to calve off. However, it was the disintegration that was shocking.

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