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Marine ice regulates the future stability of a large Antarctic ice shelf

Kulessa, Bernd; Jansen, Daniela; Luckman, Adrian J.; King, Edward C.; Sammonds, Peter R.. 2014 Marine ice regulates the future stability of a large Antarctic ice shelf. Nature Communications, 5, 5307. 7, pp. 10.1038/ncomms4707

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Abstract/Summary

The collapses of the Larsen A and B ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula in 1995 and 2002 confirm the impact of southward-propagating climate warming in this region. Recent mass and dynamic changes of Larsen B’s southern neighbour Larsen C, the fourth largest ice shelf in Antarctica, may herald a similar instability. Here, using a validated ice-shelf model run in diagnostic mode, constrained by satellite and in situ geophysical data, we identify the nature of this potential instability. We demonstrate that the present-day spatial distribution and orientation of the principal stresses within Larsen C ice shelf are akin to those within pre-collapse Larsen B. When Larsen B’s stabilizing frontal portion was lost in 1995, the unstable remaining shelf accelerated, crumbled and ultimately collapsed. We hypothesize that Larsen C ice shelf may suffer a similar fate if it were not stabilized by warm and mechanically soft marine ice, entrained within narrow suture zones

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1038/ncomms4707
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Polar Science for Planet Earth (2009 - ) > Ice Sheets
ISSN: 2041-1723
Date made live: 04 Jun 2014 13:17 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/507355

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