According to a team of NASA researchers and their latest study on the effects of global warming, Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf or what’s left of it will melt completely in the near future.
The new research suggests that what was once a huge floating ice platform will most likely disintegrate completely in the next couple of years, before this decade ends.
Experts explain that giant ice shelves are actually extensions of glaciers and act as barriers.
If these ice shelves disappear, it means that glaciers will melt faster, thus increasing the global sea level.
The new study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Ala Khazendar from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
The team found that the ice shelf has become more fragmented and is flowing faster than it used to a few year back.
According to the scientists, this flow creates huge cracks in the ice shelf, which can destroy it faster.
Khazendar explained in an official NASA press release that the findings suggest warning signs of the irreversible disintegration of the remaining ice shelf.
Khazendar added that if Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf will melt completely, it can only mean very bad news for our planet.
According to the researchers, Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf has existed for approximately 10,000 years.
The scientists first noticed that the ice shelf is slowly disintegrating after it collapsed back in 2002.
The ice shelf started cracking up and vanished in less than six weeks.
Eric Holthaus, an expert in meteorology at Slate, said that that was the first time ever when scientists witnessed such huge mass of ice disappear so fast.
NASA scientists believe that the recent collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf was caused by several warmer-than-usual summers on the Antarctic Peninsula.
These summers take place when it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
The warm summers started in 2002, according to the experts.
In 1995, Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf measured about 4,445 square miles and by 2002 it had melted to 2,573 square miles. In March 2002, the ice platform went down to 1,337 square miles.
At the moment, the remaining Larsen B ice shelf is only 618 square miles, which is the equivalent of half the size of Rhode Island, the smallest state in the United States.
Twenty years ago, the ice platform was just slightly smaller than Connecticut.
Image Source: zmescience