BOX 7.1

Ice Shelf Collapse

The observation of the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf was astonishing in the sheer dimension and abruptness of change observed via satellite, and it alerted the Earth science community due to its potential implications for sea-level rise (Figure 7.3). The dynamics contributing to the collapse were documented by various satellites: the thinning of the ice shelf toward the coast by satellite altimetry, the accelerated flow by the interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), the retreat of the grounding line by Landsat, and the calving of the icebergs by MODIS.

FIGURE 7.3 Collapse of the Larson B Ice Shelf in western Antarctica, January-March 2002. Two thousand square kilometers of the Larsen Ice Shelf disintegrated in just 2 days. SOURCE: National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado.

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