Researchers have reconstructed the history of the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula – the Larsen C glacier. The results of the work are published in the journal Geology.
Scientists were the first to use geological records to reconstruct the history of the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The ice massif is the largest of the remains of the Larsen Glacier, which began to disintegrate in the 1990s (Larsen A) and lost another piece in 2002 (Larsen B). The new reconstruction will provide insight into whether the remaining ice shelf will collapse in the future.
Over the past 25 years, several of the region’s ice shelves have collapsed. Their successiveness along the eastern part of the Antarctic Peninsula is associated with an increase in atmospheric temperature over the past 50 years. Warm ocean currents have also intensified, weakening the region’s ice shelves.
In a new study, scientists have found out how the largest remaining ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula has remained stable over the past 10,000 years.
In 2011, scientists collected sediment cores from under the Larsen C ice shelf. Later, the indicators were combined with data on sediment cores extracted from the shelf ten years earlier. In turn, this allowed researchers to reconstruct the first detailed history of the ice shelf. The authors of the work came to the conclusion that, despite the moderate retreat and advancement of the ice shelf front, it has been in a stable state over the past 10,000 years.
The Larsen C and Larsen B glaciers were more resilient to climate warming in the past than they are now, for two reasons, scientists say. They were much thicker, in addition, the heat from the atmosphere and the ocean did not penetrate so far to the south of the Earth.