File:Larsen B Collapse Size Comparison.png

From Global Warming Art


This satellite image shows the 2002 breakup of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in comparison of the US state of Rhode Island. This region, covering approximately 3250 km2 with 200 meter thick ice, had been continuously glaciated since before the end of the last glacial period (Domack et al. 2005).

The light blue color is a false color enhancement showing the region of breakup based on apparent temperature differences (measured in infrared wavelengths) of ocean water versus water previously under the ice shelf.

Though it is believed that the Larsen B Ice Shelf had been thinning for thousands of years (Domack et al. 2005), the recent changes associated with global warming and an exceptionally warm summer in 2002 are considered the immediate causes of the collapse. The leading theory for explaining abrupt ice sheet collapse is that melt water forming on the surface of the ice sheet works its way into crevasses, where it would subsequently refreeze and expand, thus exerting pressure on the ice and causing the crevasses to grow and propagate. This hypothesis suggests that such crevasses became so widespread that the normal amounts of stress associated with ice sheet flow and the calving of icebergs started a chain reaction that caused the ice sheet to disintegrate (Scambos et al. 2000).


This image is based off of NASA Terra/MODIS imagery which belongs to the public domain. The composition of this with an outline of Rhode Island is an original work produced for this site.

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  • [abstract] [DOI] Domack, Eugene, Diana Duran, Amy Leventer, Scott Ishman, Sarah Doane, Scott McCallum, David Amblas, Jim Ring, Robert Gilbert, and Michael Prentice (2005). "Stability of the Larsen B ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula during the Holocene epoch". Nature 436: 681-685. 
  • [abstract] Scambos, T., C. Hulbe, M. Fahnestock, and J. Bohlander (2000). "The link between climate warming and break-up of ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula". Journal of Glaciology 46: 516–530. 

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current20:15, 17 December 2005Thumbnail for version as of 20:15, 17 December 2005540×498 (520 KB)Robert A. Rohde (Talk | contribs) (Shows the 2002 breakup of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in comparison of the US state of w:Rhode Island. This region covering appromiately 3250 km<sup>2</sup> with 200 m thick ice had been continuous glaciated since before the end of)