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Ice shelf protecting Antarctic glacier is breaking up quicker

A critical Antarctic glacier is looking more vulnerable as satellite images show the ice shelf that blocks it from collapsing into the sea is breaking up much faster than before and spawning huge icebergs, a new study says.The Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf loss accelerated in 2017, causing scientists to worry that with climate change…

A critical Antarctic glacier is appearing more vulnerable as satellite pictures reveal the ice shelf which blocks it from collapsing into the sea is slowly breaking up much quicker than previously and spawning substantial icebergs, a new study says.

The Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf reduction hastened in 2017, causing scientists to worry that using climate change that the glacier’s collapse may happen faster compared to many centuries called. The floating ice shelf acts like a cork in a bottle for the fast-melting glacier and prevents its considerably bigger ice mass from flowing to the sea.

That ice shelf has shrunk by 12 kilometers (20 km ) between 2017 and 2020, according to a study in Friday’s Science Advances. Along with the crumbling shelf has been captured on time-lapse video by a European satellite that takes photos every six days.

“You can see stuff just tearing apart,” said study lead author Ian Joughin, a University of Washington glaciologist. “So it almost looks like the speed-up itself is weakening the glacier. … And so far we’ve lost maybe 20% of the main shelf.”

Between 2017 and 2020, there were three big split events, creating icebergs over 5 miles (8 kilometers) long and 22 kilometers (36 km ) wide, which then divide into a lot of littler bits, Joughin said. There also were many smaller breakups.

“It’s not at all inconceivable that the whole shelf could give way and go within a few years,” Joughin said. “I’d say that’s a long shot, but not a very long shot.”

Joughin monitored two points on the main glacier and found they were moving 12% faster toward the sea beginning in 2017.

“So that means 12% more ice from Pine Island going into the ocean that wasn’t there before,” he explained.

The Pine Island Glacier, which is not on an island does not ha

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