Report

Glacier Surge After Ice Shelf Collapse

Science  07 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5612, pp. 1560-1562
DOI: 10.1126/science.1077987

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Abstract

The possibility that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will collapse as a consequence of ice shelf disintegration has been debated for many years. This matter is of concern because such an event would imply a sudden increase in sea level. Evidence is presented here showing drastic dynamic perturbations on former tributary glaciers that fed sections of the Larsen Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula before its collapse in 1995. Satellite images and airborne surveys allowed unambiguous identification of active surging phases of Boydell, Sjögren, Edgeworth, Bombardier, and Drygalski glaciers. This discovery calls for a reconsideration of former hypotheses about the stabilizing role of ice shelves.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: glacio{at}dna.gov.ar

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