In just three days in late January, a mass of ice the size of Philadelphia fragmented from the Larsen-B embayment on the Antarctic Peninsula and floated away, after persisting there for more than a decade. NASA satellites captured the break-up between January 19 and 21, and with it saw calving of icebergs from Crane Glacier and its neighbors as the sea ice no longer buttressed their fronts. Now more vulnerable to melting and acceleration into the ocean, the glaciers that line the Antarctic Peninsula could add directly to sea level.
With warming temperatures and changing climatic patterns, notable events along the Larsen ice shelf are predicted to occur more frequently. Scientists are able to track each section of the Larsen Ice Shelf closely, documenting ice shelf collapse, growth of sea ice and the long survival of giant icebergs which threaten distant areas. As warming continues, questions prevail over how long the Larsen-D portion will remain stable.
Its location closer to the South Pole has protected it from the impacts of climate change—so far. Reducing emissions is not only important for ice on the Antarctic Peninsula, but for the larger East and West Antarctic ice sheets, too.
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