Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Satellite documents thinning ice shelf

(CNN) -- A European satellite has observed a rapid retreat of one of Antarctica's ice shelves, which is half the size it was 10 years ago, the European Space Agency said Thursday.

The agency's Envisat satellite shows part of the Larsen Ice Shelf, which lies on a peninsula south of Chile, has decreased from 3,463 square kilometers (1,337 square miles) in March 2002 to 1,670 square kilometers (645 square miles) today, a change the European Space Agency blames on warmer temperatures.

"Ice shelves are sensitive to atmospheric warming and to changes in ocean currents and temperatures," Helmut Rott from the University of Innsbruck said in an statement from the space agency. "The northern Antarctic Peninsula has been subject to atmospheric warming of about 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 Fahrenheit degrees) over the last 50 years -- a much stronger warming trend than on global average, causing retreat and disintegration of ice shelves."

The waning is happening on the Larsen B ice shelf, one of three shelves that make up the Larsen Ice Shelf. Read More