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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses
19 March 2002 (All day)
A hunk of ice bigger than Rhode Island broke off from the Antarctic Peninsula last month, shattering into a flotilla of icebergs (see satellite image below). The final collapse of the northern half of the Larsen B ice shelf appears to be the latest dramatic sign of warming on the peninsula.
Temperatures on the peninsula have been rising five times faster than the global average--2.5°C since the 1940s--but whether global warming is to blame isn't yet known. The Larsen B ice shelf on the peninsula's east side is a floating sheet of ice about 200 meters thick. Its gradual breakup made headlines in 1998, when British scientists predicted its collapse (ScienceNOW, 17 April 1998). But the death throes of the shelf's northern half--3250 km2 have broken off since 31 January--is "spectacular in terms of the area and speed," says Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado, Boulder. U.S., British, and Argentine scientists have monitored the collapse using satellites, planes, and ships.
Scambos's group predicted the final Larsen B collapse using a model that looks at how much meltwater has pooled on the surface of the ice, and he now hopes to apply the model to bigger Antarctic ice shelves. Losing those shelves could presage the melting of their parent ice sheets on land--which could lead to a dramatic rise in sea level.