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Antarctic Ice Shelves

photo: Josh Landis, NSF

NSIDC Tracks Antarctic Peninsular Ice Shelves

NSIDC regularly monitors the ice shelves surrounding the Antarctic coast using satellite imagery. These images of Antarctic Ice Shelves support studies of the extent and stability of the shelves and the timing of coastline changes.

We also occasionally report on icebergs calved from Antarctic ice shelves.

Antarctic Ice Shelves
in the news at NSIDC

9 December 2003

Antarctic Glaciers Speed Up: Scientists at NSIDC have found that glaciers around the area of the Larsen B Ice Shelf accelerated immediately after it collapsed early in 2002, and are still speeding up.

19 March 2002

Larsen B Ice Shelf Collapses in Antarctica: Recent satellite imagery analyzed at NSIDC revealed that the northern section of the Larsen B ice shelf has completely shattered and separated from the continent.

6 January 2001

Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapse Triggered by Warmer Summers: Recent work by scientists at NSIDC, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and the University of Maryland, indicate that the shelves are particularly sensitive to climate change.

22 March 2001

Monitoring of Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica, Reveals Wide New Crack: Pine Island Glacier has undergone a steady loss of elevation with retreat of the grounding line in recent decades. Now, space imagery has revealed a wide new crack that some scientists think will soon result in a calving event.

7 April 1999

Breakup of the Larsen B Ice Shelf: 15 February 1998 - 18 March 1999: Two ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula known as the Larsen B and Wilkins are in "full retreat" and have lost nearly 3,000 square kilometers of their total area in the last year. Browse images showing the evolution of the Larsen B ice shelf from February 15, 1988 to March 18, 1999. Or watch a movie of the breakup.

24 March 1998

Breakup of Larsen B Ice Shelf May Be Underway: The Larsen B Ice Shelf appears to have begun breaking up, receding past its historical minimum extent, and past the point where recent modeling suggests it can maintain a stable ice front. The breakup appears closely associated with the areas over which melt ponding is observed during warmer summer seasons.

January 1995

Events in the Northern Larsen Ice Shelf and Their Importance: In late January of 1995, a large area (~2000 km2) disintegrated into small icebergs during a storm. At the same time, farther south, a large iceberg broke off the ice shelf front. While large iceberg calving events are routine for ice shelves, disintegration is not.

Iceshelves in the News
around the world

Antarctic Glaciers Speed Up: Scientists at NSIDC have found that glaciers around the area of the Larsen B Ice Shelf accelerated immediately after it collapsed early in 2002. (NSIDC)

Ice Shelf Feels the Heat: "Warming waters may doom the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen Ice Shelf, and other Antarctic ice shelves could be more endangered than had been thought, according to a paper published in the 31 October issue of Science." NSIDC researcher Ted Scambos is quoted in the paper. (Science Magazine)

6-7 NOVEMBER 2003
Tiny ice crystals may protect Antarctic ice shelves - scientists: Scientists start project to create computer models that may help predict behavior of Antarctic ice shelves. (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand Herald)

Warm Ocean Waters Said to Harm Ice Shelf (Aberdeen American News, Ananova, Belleville News-Democrat, Biloxi Sun Herald, Centre Daily Times, Duluth News Tribune, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Grand Forks Herald, Guardian, Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, Macon Telegraph, Newark Star Ledger, Newsday, Quad City Times, Salt Lake Tribune, SpaceDaily, TerraDaily, Times of India, Topeka Capital Journal, Tri-Valley Herald, Wilkes Barre Weekender)

6 OCTOBER 2003
ICESat's lasers measure ice, clouds and land elevations (NASA

1 OCTOBER 2003
Huge Antarctic iceberg makes a big splash on sea life (EurekAlert)

22-24 SEPTEMBER 2003
Giant Arctic ice shelf splits: Largest Arctic ice shelf breaks up, freeing all water from the freshwater lake it dammed. (ABC Science Online, BBC News, Belfast Telegraph, CBC North, CBS News, CNN, CTV, Discovery Channel, Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, The Globe and Mail, Independent Online, Knoxville News Sentinel, Melbourne Herald Sun, The Mercury, MSN Money, MSNBC,, New York Times, Newark Star Ledger, News24, South Africa, Science Daily, South Australia Advertiser, Springfield News Leader, Straits Times, Taipei Times, Telegraph, Toronto Star, Voice of America, Washington Post, Washington Times, Yahoo News)

For more news, see NSIDC News.

For more information, see The Cryosphere, Where the World is Frozen.