Thinned Out

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Science  31 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5646, pp. 741
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5646.741d

Was the collapse of two large sections of the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica during the past decade directly related to climate warming? Shepherd et al. (p. 856; see the news story by Kaiser) report satellite elevation measurements that show evidence of a widespread mass imbalance of the Larsen Ice Shelf, and conclude that ocean-driven melting has progressively thinned the ice shelf at its base. Their analysis shows that the shelf has thinned for at least 9 years, beginning prior to the well-documented collapse events of 1995 and 2002, and that this thinning may have played a pivotal role. They conclude that the remaining Larsen-C section will reach a similar condition in ∼100 years. These results identify a possible direct link between the observed climate warming and the breakup of ice shelves at the Antarctic Peninsula.

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