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Larsen Ice Shelf front in 2002.
Photo Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
The front of the Larsen Ice Shelf along the Antarctic Peninsula in March 2002, as tons of ice disintegrated in spectacular fashion. Scientists on the LARISSA project are interested in finding out the conditions that preceded the collapse and what's happened to the ecosystem since the ice shelf disappeared.


IPY project planned for 2009-10 field season in Antarctic Peninsula

LARISSA map of operations.
Graphic Courtesy: Adam Jenkins
Map shows the location of the LARISSA expedition.

The LARsen Ice Shelf System, Antarctica External Non-U.S. government site, project is an interdisciplinary program to study as many facets of an ice shelf ecosystem as possible following the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002. Some of the leading polar researchers External Non-U.S. government site in the U.S. Antarctic Program External U.S. government site will use their expertise to understand the conditions that led up to disintegration, looking not only at the more immediate evidence, but traveling back thousands of years in the region's climate history to determine if the event was part of a longer natural cycle or an aberration of the extreme warming now under way along the Antarctic Peninsula. Other team members will delve into consequences of the collapse, such as the effect on a formerly hidden ecosystem that existed under the shadow of the ice shelf before it disappeared, and how the absence of the shelf is changing the local biology and ocean properties.

Articles in this series include: