Antarctica: Larsen Ice Shelf Side by Side Comparison

In 1978, scientists predicted that global warming would lead to a disintegration of Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves. Spaceborne data indicate that this prediction may be coming true. In these before and after images, note the dramatic change in the apparent shoreline. Scientists captured the first image using the ERS-1 satellite in 1992. As seen in the second image, collected by RADARSAT in 1997, huge changes have come to the coastline. In 1995, a 2000 square kilometer section of the ice shelf collapsed into thousands of fragments that eventually drifted out to sea. Researchers are still debating why the ice shelf broke up so dramatically, and what significance the break up has for interpreting local versus global changes to the environment. Theories include a series of warmer than usual summers which may have caused high levels of surface melting, or an overall climate warming trend.

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Visualization Credits

Stuart A. Snodgrass (GST): Lead Animator
Marte Newcombe (GST): Animator
Ken Jezek (Ohio State University): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio. Additional credit goes to Canadian Space Agency, RADARSAT International Inc.

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Data Used:
RADARSAT-1/SAR 1997/09/26-1997/11/04
ERS-1 1992

This item is part of this series:

DLESE >> Cryology
SVS >> Ice Shelf
SVS >> Larsen
GCMD >> Location >> Antarctica
NASA Science >> Earth

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version