Intense atmospheric rivers can weaken ice shelf stability at the Antarctic Peninsula

Scientists warn the biggest remaining ice shelf in the Antarctic Peninsula is at risk of total collapse due to ‘rivers in the sky’.

We show that the most intense atmospheric rivers induce extremes in temperature, surface melt, sea-ice disintegration, or large swells that destabilize the ice shelves with 40% probability. This was observed during the collapses of the Larsen A and B ice shelves during the summers of 1995 and 2002 respectively. Overall, 60% of calving events from 2000–2020 were triggered by atmospheric rivers.

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