An Antarctic plateau that created an iceberg the size of DELAWARE in 2017 could now be exposed to exceptionally hot winds – and could also cause other nearby glaciers to melt faster
- An Antarctic icecap could be next on the block because of hot winds
- Foehn the winds of the Antarctic Mountains melt faster and faster
- When the snowpack melts, the structural integrity of the leaf is threatened
- Even if the break of Larsen C will not affect the level of the sea, the melting glaciers
Scientists say that climate change is echoed alphabetically on the world's largest ice platforms, and that the fourth on the Antarctic could be next on the block.
In 1995, it is Larsen A, located on the northernmost peninsula of Antarctica, which began to collapse due to shallow melting; then it was Larsen B, about the size of Rhode Island, in 2002; Now, Larsen C is experiencing higher than usual surface melting levels that scientists say could put the gigantic block of ice to the test.
In a new 35-year University of Maryland study, researchers say a three-year trend of warm, dry drafts from the Antarctic Peninsula's mountains, the foehn winds, could be at the origin of the increased melting.
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Larsen C is the fourth largest ice shelf in Antarctica and could be next on the block if warm winds continue to melt the surface.
WHAT IS FOEHN WIND?
The Foehn wind is a generic term for any hot, dry wind coming from a mountain range.
In the case of Antarctic ice shelves, the foehn wind comes from the central mountain range of the Antarctic Peninsula and can greatly accelerate melting.
The winds increase the melt which modifies the density of the plateau and threatens its stability.
A similar fate has hit two other ice shelves in the past and could happen with a third, Larsen C, today.
"Three years is not a trend, but it is quite unusual to see stronger foehn winds and associated melt towards the end of summer and the beginning of autumn," Rajashree said. Tri Datta, lead author of the new research paper.
"It is unusual to see an increase in foehn-induced melting for several years in a row, especially late in the melt season, when the winds are stronger but the temperatures are generally cooler.
"That's when we expect the melting to finish and the surface to be covered with snow."
To complicate matters, warm winds could be particularly damaging to Larsen C, as they tend to flow through glacial valleys, melting the most basic ice structures that support the plateau.
The study indicates that the surface melting produced by the winds has also begun to alter the snowpack of the plateau, threatening its structural integrity.
As the merger accelerates, the scientists explain that the water tends to settle under the outer porous snow layer of the plateau, called "firn", where it freezes again.
The phenomenon makes the outer layer denser and causes a build-up of water above its surface.
Scientists say that this exact process – especially the increase in walnut density – ultimately led to the fracturing of Larsen A and Larsen B, offering a potential insight into what will happen if the trend continues .
Scientists warn that the melting of Larsen C could cause an accelerated melting of glaciers behind the plateau.
In the event that Larsen C is hit by exceptionally hot winds – which could raise the temperature to 30 ° C – the scientists said the resulting breakage would not raise the sea level.
However, the greatest risk can be related to the melting of nearby glaciers.
Without the shelf supporting the glaciers behind it, scientists warn that it could speed up their melting process and raise the sea level in the world.
In early July 2017, a huge crack on the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica caused the release of a huge 5,800 square kilometer iceberg.
WHAT IS THE ICEBERG A-68 AND WHAT HAS CAUSED TO DISAPPEAR FROM THE ANTARCTIC?
In July 2017, a huge crack on the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica caused the break-up of a one trillion tonne iceberg – the third largest ever recorded – of the South Free Continent.
The huge piece of ice, the A-68 iceberg, measures 5,800 square kilometers, about the size of Delaware, four times the size of Greater London.
Since the break-up of the A-68, we still do not know what will happen to the giant mass, fearing that it will fragment into pieces too small to be detected by satellite and that it deviates in the tracks of navigation.
In July 2017, a huge crack on the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica caused the break-up of a one trillion tonne iceberg – the third largest ever recorded – of the South Free Continent. These detailed images were captured by instruments aboard NASA Landsat 8 satellite
Experts have found that cracks continue to grow on Larsen C and that if they continue to grow, the ice floe may collapse.
If all Larsen C collapses, the ice it holds could add 10 cm more at sea level over the years.
Many scientists claim that a calving event was not necessarily caused by climate change.
Instead, it can simply reflect the natural growth and decomposition cycle of an ice floe.