The Larsen Ice Shelf
is a long, fringing ice shelf
in the northwest part of the Weddell Sea
, extending along the east coast of Antarctic Peninsula
from Cape Longing
to the area just southward of Hearst Island
. Named for Captain Carl Anton Larsen
, the master of the Norwegian whaling vessel Jason
, who sailed along the ice front as far as 68°10' South during December 1893.
In finer detail, the Larsen Ice Shelf is a series of three shelves that occupy (or occupied) distinct embayments along the coast. From north to south, the three segments are called Larsen A (the smallest), Larsen B, and Larsen C (the largest) by researchers who work in the area. The Larsen A ice shelf disintegrated in January 1995. The Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated in February 2002. The Larsen C ice shelf appears to be stable for the time being, though scientists predict that, if localized warming continues at its current rate, the shelf could disintegrate at some point within the foreseeable future.
The Larsen disintegration events were unusual by past standards. Typically, ice shelves lose mass by iceberg calving
and by melting at their upper and lower surfaces. The disintegration events are linked to the ongoing climate warming
in the Antarctic Peninsula
, about 0.5 °C per decade since the late 1940s, which is a consequence of localized warming of the Antarctic peninsula.Connor, Steve (2005) "Ice shelf collapse was biggest... Read More