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Thinning Antarctic ice shelf could contribute to sea level rise 13th May 2015

Ice shelf

Warming oceans are the main driver for melting ice from Larsen C, an ice shelf which is twice the size of Wales, potentially releasing huge amounts of ice if it collapses.

The largest shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula is thinning due to rising sea and air temperatures potentially unlocking large ice sheets which consequently could lead to significant sea level rise. According to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) study, Larsen C has lost 4 metres of thickness, with most of the ice being lost from below the ice sheet (approximately 28cm a year). As the ice thins it becomes more prone to collapse.

Ice shelves act as a brake on glaciers flowing from the land, the loss of these ice shelves across Antarctica could therefore lead to significant sea level rise. The melting of Larsen C is predicted to raise sea levels by several centimetres. As the ice sheets disappear the glaciers behind them accelerate and are more exposed to direct contact with the sea, fuelling accelerated sea level rise.

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