Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ice Shelf Disintegration Threatens Environment, Queen's Study

Date:
August 9, 2005
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
The spectacular disintegration of Antarctica's "Larsen-B" Ice Shelf was unprecedented since the last ice age, according to a recent study published in Nature. And the disintegrating Antarctic ice could have huge implications for global warming and rising sea levels.

Larsen ice shelf.
Credit: Image courtesy of Queen's University

Using sediment core and oxygen isotope analysis, researchers haverecently proved that Larsen B -- which disintegrated in 35 days in 2002-- had been a stable ice shelf 200 metres thick with a surface area of3,250 square kilometres for at least 10,000 years. By contrast theLarsen A Ice Shelf, which broke up in the 1990s, was absent for asignificant part of that period and reformed beginning about 4,000years ago, according to the study.

"The disintegration of Larsen B is almost certainly a response tohuman-induced global warming," says Queen's geographer Robert Gilbert,the only Canadian researcher on the international research team."Antarctic temperatures have increased more than 10°C in the last 25years. By comparison, the world-wide temperature change during theentire post-glacial period has only been 2 -- 3°C," he adds.

Larsen B's demise is likely the consequence of long-term thinning dueto melting from underneath as well as short-term surface melting due toglobal warming. The "under melt" of a few tens of metres over thousandsof years is caused by warming waters or currents flowing beneath thefloating ice shelf. However, the surface melting has happened muchfaster over decades, the study concludes. And Larsen B's demise couldset off a series of environmental changes.

"The breaking up of Larsen B alone will not change sea level, but otherglaciers previously restricted by the ice shelf have surged forward,lowering their surfaces," says Dr. Gilbert. "Lower elevations havewarmer temperatures, which warm the glaciers and cause more melt andmore flux of ice to the sea. So that is having and will have an effecton global sea levels. As more ice is lost there may be a greater impacton sea level than previously predicted.

"Further, with the increased energy in the atmosphere associated withglobal warming, there will be more storms," he warns. "Storm surges,which also raise water levels, will have profound effects on low-lyingareas and may necessitate infrastructure like the large moveable damscalled surge gates already used in Europe and Providence, R.I., thatcan be closed during extreme high sea levels to prevent flooding."

Although other, smaller ice shelves have undergone periodic decay andgrowth since the last ice age, these small ice shelves exist at theclimatic limit for ice shelf formation and would be expected to respondquickly to climate change over hundreds and thousands of years, thestudy indicates.

The research team also includes scientists from Hamilton College in NewYork State, Colgate University, the Lamont-Doherty GeologicalObservatory at Columbia University, Montclair State University in NewJersey and Southern Illinois University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "Ice Shelf Disintegration Threatens Environment, Queen's Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050804123855.htm>.
Queen's University. (2005, August 9). Ice Shelf Disintegration Threatens Environment, Queen's Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050804123855.htm
Queen's University. "Ice Shelf Disintegration Threatens Environment, Queen's Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050804123855.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday as Japanese rescuers resumed efforts to find survivors and retrieve bodies of those trapped by Mount Ontake's eruption. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A Spanish scientist, who spent 12 days trapped about 1300 feet underground in a cave in Peru's remote Amazon region, was rescued on Tuesday. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Media, Industry Groups React To Calif. Plastic Bag Ban

Media, Industry Groups React To Calif. Plastic Bag Ban

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — California is the first state in the country to ban single-use plastic bags in grocery, liquor and convenience stores. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins