Vienna: The European Space Agency`s Envisat satellite continues to record the rapid retreat of one of Antarctica`s ice shelves due to atmospheric warming.
Envisat mapped a loss of 1,790 sq km of ice in Larsen B`s area, in addition to the rapid break up of a section of the same ice shelf, involving 3,200 sq km of ice, in its very first observation after launch March 1, 2002.
"Ice shelves are sensitive to atmospheric warming and to changes in ocean currents and temperatures," said study author Helmut Rott, professor from the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
"The northern Antarctic peninsula has been subject to atmospheric warming of about 2.5 degrees Celsius over the last 50 years - a much stronger warming trend than on global average, causing retreat and disintegration of ice shelves," added Rott, according to an Innsbruck statement.
Larsen area comprises three ice shelves, A (the smallest), B and C (the largest) - that extend from north to south along the eastern side of the Antarctic peninsula. Larsen A disintegrated in January 1995.
Larsen C so far has been stable in the area, but satellite observations have shown thinning and an increasing duration of melt events in summer.