In the Antarctic ice shelf disintegrates rapidly

Satellite «ESA Envisat» notes ten years in orbit and continues to monitor the departure of one of the ice shelves of Antarctica due to global warming, according to «».

One of the first observations of the satellite after its launch, which took place on March 1 of 2002, was the collapse of the main part of the glacier «Larsen B» of the Antarctic shelf. Due to the mechanical instability of the ice masses, caused by global warming, a few days broke 3200 sq. m. km of ice.

And only now, after 10 years of observations debilitating «Envisat» with «Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar» (ASAR) have found additional losses in «Larsen B».

Ice Shelf «Larsen B» is a series of three levels — A (smallest), B (middle) and C (the largest). They lie along the north-south along the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

In January of 1995 «Larsen» collapsed. «Larsen C» was still stable, but satellite observations have shown that long-term thinning and melting have a noticeable increase in the summer.

"Ice shelves are very sensitive to atmospheric warming, changes in ocean currents, and even to their temperature," — said Professor Helmut Rott of Innsbruck University (University of Innsbruck).

"Northern Antarctic Peninsula was the subject of atmospheric warming (about 2,5 ° C) over the past 50 years — a strong warming trend causes the destruction of ice shelves." «Envisat» has already exceeded its planned lifetime. But he is planning at least two more years to observe the Earth's ice cap, as well as the land, oceans and atmosphere.

This ensures continuity of critical Earth observation as long as in 2013, the year of a new generation of satellites «Sentinels» (Guard) does not continue the efforts already undertaken by his predecessor job.

"Long systematic observations are of particular importance for understanding and modeling the cryosphere" — said Professor Roth.

"Climate models predict a sharp warming to high latitudes. Observations «Envisat» for ice shelves «Larsen» confirmed vulnerabilities in the ice shelves in a warming climate.

"These observations are important to assess the behavior of a much larger glaciers in West Antarctica, especially if warming move south."

These speed as «ASAR Envisat» are particularly useful for monitoring the polar areas, since they can take images even through clouds and darkness.

«Sentinels» is being developed in Europe as part of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and will continue the legacy of radar observations.


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