Strong surface melting preceded collapse of Antarctic Peninsula ice shelf



[1] During the austral summer of 2001/02, melting at the surface of Larsen Ice Shelf in the Antarctic Peninsula was three times greater than the average of five previous summers. This exceptional melt event lasted for three months and was followed by the collapse of Larsen B Ice Shelf, during which 3,200 km2 of ice shelf surface was lost. The strong melting was caused by a persistent atmospheric circulation anomaly, which depleted sea ice concentrations in front of Larsen Ice Shelf and transported warm air to the ice shelf throughout the 2001/02 summer. This supports the theory that large meltwater fluxes accelerate the retreat of Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves.