10,000 years old Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf will die by 2020, says NASA

According to a new NASA study, the Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica will be disintegrated completely within the next 5 years. For those who don’t know: the Larsen B ice-shelf is more than ten thousand years old and collapsed partially in 2002. The study by the American space agency informed that the ice-shelf if weakening pretty rapidly and will most likely break up into pieces and collapse completely before this decade ends.

The researchers involved in this study said that they came to the conclusion after observing warning signs such as an increase in the flow of tributary glaciers and large developing cracks in the ice-shelf.

Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Pasadena, California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory informed that the above-mentioned changes are indicators of an impending disintegration of the remaining ice-shelf. He added that although watching the ice-shelf becoming unstable and gradually disintegrating very closely is enriching scientifically, the event is not good news for the planet Earth and its inhabitants.

The research team gathered all the data for the study using an aircraft designed for measuring bedrock depths and ice surface elevations and synthetic aperture radars operating from the space. These aperture radars have been operating for almost two decades, to be more precise, since 1997.

Right now, the Larsen B ice-shelf covers an area of 625 square miles; its thickest part measures 1,640 feet.

During the study, the researchers have come to know that out of the three glaciers that feed Larsen B, two have sped up remarkably since 2002 i.e. since the time the ice-shelf has split up.

Based on this finding, the researchers are predicting that soon we’ll see a large crack moving across the Larsen B ice-shelf and fragmenting its remnants into smaller icebergs; according to them, the ice bergs will then float away in different directions.


Currently, the researchers are worried assuming that the cracks in the ice-shelf might force the three glaciers accelerate rapidly in the direction of the ocean. For those who don’t know: the names of the three glaciers feeding the Larsen B ice-shelf are: Starbuck, Flask and Leppant.

According to a recent NASA release, the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice-shelf has increased the speed of the glaciers behind the disintegrated part by eight times of what it was earlier.