Catastrophic ice-shelf break-up by an ice-shelf-fragment-capsize mechanism
Abstract:Two disintegration events leading to the loss of Larsen A and B ice shelves, Antarctic Peninsula, in 1995 and 2002, respectively,proceeded with extreme rapidity (order of several days) and reduced an extensive, seemingly integrated ice shelf to a jumble of small fragments. These events strongly correlate with warming regional climate and accumulation of surface meltwater, supporting a hypothesis that meltwater-induced propagation of pre-existing surface crevasses may have initiated ice-shelf fragmentation.Weaddress here an additional, subsequent mechanism that may sustain and accelerate the ice-shelf break-up once it begins.The proposed mechanism involves the coherent capsize of narrow (less than thickness) ice-shelf fragments by rolling 90° in a direction toward, or away from, the ice front. Fragment capsize liberates gravitational potential energy, forces open ice-shelf rifts and contributes to further fragmentation of the surrounding ice shelf.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2003-01-01
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