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Breakup and conditions for stability of the northern Larsen Ice Shelf, Antarctica


Doake, CSM and Corr, HFJ and Rott, H and Skvarca, P and Young, NW, Breakup and conditions for stability of the northern Larsen Ice Shelf, Antarctica, Nature, 391, (6669) pp. 778-780. ISSN 0028-0836 (1998) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1038/35832


The breakup of ice shelves has been widely regarded as an indicator of climate change, with observations around the Ant-arctic Peninsula having shown a pattern of gradual retreat, associated with regional atmospheric warming and increased summer melt and fracturing processes. The rapid collapse of the northernmost section of the Larsen Ice Shelf (Larsen A), over a few days in January 1995, indicated that, after retreat beyond a critical limit, ice shelves may disintegrate rapidly. Here we use a finite-element numerical model that treats ice as a continuum without fracture to examine the breakup history between 1986 and 1997 of the two northern sections of Larsen Ice Shelf (Larsen A and Larsen B), from which we establish stability criteria for ice shelves. Analysis of various ice-shelf configurations reveals characteristic patterns in the strain rates near the ice front which we use to describe the stability of the ice shelf. On Larsen A, only the initial and final ice-front configurations show a stable pattern. Larsen B at present exhibits a stable pattern, but if the ice front were to retreat by a further few kilometres, it too is likely to enter an irreversible retreat phase.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Glaciology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Young, NW (Mr Neal Young)
ID Code:15174
Year Published:1998
Web of Science® Times Cited:123
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic and Southern Ocean Environm
Deposited On:1998-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-10

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