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The Collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf
Red: Larsen Shelf in 1995 Yellow: Jan 31, 2002 Green: Feb. 17, 2002 Blue: current

Despite the End Of The World Nuts claiming this is yet another sign we're all doomed, this didn't happen "overnight". And it's not some "proof" of anything - we've only been keeping even basic records of weather, where there was enough civilization to do so, for the last 150 years or so, and that sure wasn't very scientific, nor 'world wide" by any means. The time is much less if you want to count the brief decades we've had computer bases and programs to get it down to true accuracy. And we have nothing but speculation as to what 'the Earth' did or has done in it's past using sediment cores, ice cores, old written accounts. We have no idea at all if that was 'normal' or what other factors may have played a part in it. Until this Larsen B event, the 'Oh No We're Doomed!!' Bunch were pointing out the fact the the ice on the other side of Antarctica is building up, and crowding the penguins off of their usual breeding shelves. So....up and too much water/too cold on one side; too warm/losing ice off on the other, maybe this is what it does. If you look at the fancy roll-over image of the last and first photo at the bottom of this page, to ME it almost looks as it the water rose OVER the ice, causing it to melt down/in and collape. Someone should make up their mind before they scream " IT'S THEM THAR ALIEN NAZI SEX BASES!" and all that on Art Bell's show, because frankly, until those callers at least learn to pick up a book.....

Where was I? Oh yeah....sorry....

In other words, we don't have a clue. What we do have though, are the means to have seen it this time. Satellite images caught an amazing show over five weeks. From about Jan. 31 to Mar. 5, 2002 the "Larsen B" Ice Shelf collapsed and splintered into a plume of drifting icebergs. Satellite images showed that virtual ponds of melted water were forming atop the ice in recent months and seeping into the ice sheet's interior, accelerating it's demise. They show on the photos as a gorgeous, ice blue. Guess that's where the name of the color comes from, huh?

The collapsed area was 650 feet (198.1 m) thick with a surface area of 1,250 square miles, (3237 km) or about the size of Rhode Island. This gives you an idea of how massive this place is, and how much ice there is. My only regret is that it wasn't Rhode Island. In that sort of theatrical, Hollywood, right-after-the-guy-takes-his-last-dying-breath-scene when the other guy has this whole flash of Injustice in the Grand Scheme of things moment and looks up at heaven and screams "WHY?! Oh God! Take ME instead!" kind of thing. Nothing personal to the folks living there. I'm sure they're very nice people. As a state however, Rhode Island is just, well it's just there, and really on whole I don't think anyone in the US would have cared much if it fell off into the Atlantic Ocean in Larsen B's stead. Hell, I bet Martha Stewart would gift wrap it : she lives right next door there in Connecticut. In fact I bet the whole US would chip in to get Rhode Island AND Martha Stewart gift wrapped if it would mean getting rid of BOTH of them. Hell, I can make that curly-ribbon stuff curl with scissors - I'll help.

But I digress.

The Larsen Ice Shelf has been under careful observation since 1995, when its northernmost sector, known as Larsen A, collapsed in a similarly dramatic event. The entire Larsen Ice Shelf now is about 40 percent of its original size.

``We knew what was left would collapse eventually, but the speed of it is staggering,'' said David Vaughan, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey. ``Hard to believe that 500 million billion tons of ice sheet has disintegrated in less than a month.'' Sez them. The Earth seems to have it's own schedule and does what it does, and has and will long before and after we're gone from here.


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