The ice shelf’s disintegrating state came into light after it partially collapsed in 2002. Scientists watched in amazement as the ice shelf splintered and vanished rapidly in six weeks. No one had ever witnessed a large ice mass disappear so quickly, according to Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist at Slate.
The collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf seems to have been caused by a series of warm summers on the Antarctic Peninsula, which happen during what in the Northern Hemisphere are winter months. Those trends built up to a particularly warm summer in 2002, according to NASA.
Larsen B measured 4,445 square miles in January 1995. It went down to 2,573 square miles in February 2002 after the major disintegration, and a month later Larsen B was down to 1,337 square miles.
At present the Larsen B remnant is about 618 square miles. That’s less than half the size of Rhode Island, the smallest U.S. state. Two decades ago, Larsen B was slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut.