Larsen Ice Shelf

Larsen Ice Shelf, Ice shelf in Antarctica.

Larsen Ice Shelf image

Ice shelf in Antarctica

Larsen Ice Shelves A, B, C, and D Location of the Antarctic Peninsula within Antarctica

The Larsen Ice Shelf is a long ice shelf in the northwest part of the Weddell Sea, extending along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula from Cape Longing to Smith Peninsula. It is named after Captain Carl Anton Larsen, the master of the Norwegian whaling vessel Jason, who sailed along the ice front as far as 68°10' South during December 1893. In finer detail, the Larsen Ice Shelf is a series of shelves that occupy (or occupied) distinct embayments along the coast. From north to south, the segments are called Larsen A (the smallest), Larsen B, and Larsen C (the largest) by researchers who work in the area. Further south, Larsen D and the much smaller Larsen E, F and G are also named.

The breakup of the ice shelf since the mid-1990s has been widely reported, with the collapse of Larsen B in 2002 being particularly dramatic. A large section of the Larsen C shelf broke away in July 2017 to form an iceberg known as A-68.

The ice shelf originally covered an area of 85,000 square kilometres (33,000:sq:mi), but following the disintegration in the north and the break away of iceberg A-17, it now covers an area of 67,000 square kilometres (26,000:sq:mi).

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Ice shelf

Processes around an Antarctic ice shelf

The collapse of Larsen B has revealed a thriving chemotrophic ecosystem 800:m (half a mile) below the sea. The discovery was accidental. U.S. Antarctic Program scientists were in the north-western Weddell Sea investigating the sediment record in a deep glacial trough of roughly 1,000,000 square kilometres (390,000:sq:mi) (twice the size of Texas or France). Methane and hydrogen sulfide associated with cold seeps is suspected as the source of the chemical energy powering the e... ...read more

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