The A B C’s of Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapse As Larsen C Rift Grows

Larsen C is the eleventh major Antarctic shelf to break off immense slabs of sea ice, with dire consequences for the near future.

Alarming, nation-sized chunks of sea ice have been breaking off the main Antarctic Ice Shelves for the last twenty years (see more below). Now, a huge rupture moving across the gigantic Larsen C shelf is visibly widening and lengthening, leading up to another inevitable collapse that will accelerate the changes in the sea ice and weather patterns. This process, out of sight to most of the world and apparently of little interest, is already affecting the rest of the planet in a big way.

The Story:

The Arctic and Antarctic regions respond to global warming in fundamentally different ways. Because the current environmental collapse in the Arctic is so dramatic and the changes in Antarctica are more complex, the Arctic meltdown gets most of what little attention the mainstream media pays to the most important real crisis the planet is facing.* Nevertheless, the ice shelves of the Southern Hemisphere, once thought stable, have been deteriorating rapidly, with chunks the size of states and countries breaking off into the sea. Ice shelves are attached to the main land mass, but float in the sea. As the seas continue to warm, the shelves have been melting from below. This process is largely invisible until the shelf begins to fall apart.

“Glacier Gatekeepers”
However, the shelves serve as blockades to prevent the land-based glaciers from flowing into the sea. As the shelves collapse, the glaciers behind them have accelerated their flow. This process not only contributes to the total sea level rise, but also adds huge quantities of fresh water to the ocean. Antarctica holds most of the planet’s land-based ice.

Larsen A Shelf 1995:
After 12,000 years of stability, the first section of the Larsen Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea broke apart in 1995.

Larsen B Shelf 2002:
The Larsen B Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula suddenly shattered in 2002, losing a crescent shaped area the size of Delaware. Within five weeks, approximately 1,250 square miles of the shelf rapidly were transformed into ice small ice blocks and and a slush called mélange. As the decade has progressed, the remnant of the shelf continues to flow faster as it becomes more fragmented and cracked. It is expected to be gone by 2020.

In 2008, the Wilkins Ice Shelf further down the peninsula began disintegrating, with the final collapse complete in spring of 2009. It was the tenth major ice shelf to collapse in recent times.

And Now…the Larsen Shelf C TBD:
A giant fracture is rapidly slicing off a huge chunk of the giant Larsen C ice shelf. Between 2011 and 2015 the rift extended it’s length another 20 miles and opened up to over 600 feet wide. When it reconnects with the Southern Ocean, another massive hunk of ice will disconnect from the country-sized shelf, which more than likely change the dynamics of the glaciers behind it. In other words, Antarctica is showing signs of catastrophic change that may be as alarming as what is going on in the Arctic.

* As opposed to litigating the religious freedom of bigots or debating who Hillary’s fake health issues.

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