Climatic trend, retreat and disintegration of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula: an overview

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Observations of the retreat and disintegration of ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula during the last three decades and associated changes in airtemperature, measured at various meteorological stations on the Antarctic Peninsula, are reviewed. The climatically induced retreat of the northernLarsen Ice Shelf on the east coast and of the Wordie, George VI, and Wilkins ice shelves on the west coast amounted to about 10 000 km2 since themid 1960s. A summary is presented on the recession history of the Larsen Ice Shelf and on the collapse of that sections north of Robertson Island inearly 1995. The area changes were derived from images of various satellites, dating back to late 1963 due to an image from the recently declassifiedUS Argon space missions. This photograph reveals a previously unknown, minor advance of the northern Larsen Ice Shelf before 1975. During theperiod of retreat a consistent and pronounced warming trend was observed at the stations on both east and west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula but amajor cause of the fast retreat and final collapse of the northernmost sections of the Larsen Ice Shelf were several unusually warm summers. Atemperature record from the nearby station Marambio shows that a positive mean summer temperature was reached for the first time in 1992-93.Recent observations indicate that the process of ice shelf disintegration is proceeding further south on both sides of the Antarctic Peninsula.

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Skvarca, P. , Rack, W. , Rott, H. and Ibarzábal y Donángelo, T. (1999): Climatic trend, retreat and disintegration of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula: an overview , Polar Research, 18 (2), pp. 151-157 .

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