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Antarctic ice shelves retreating

From NBC's Anne Thompson
The non-partisan United States Geological Survey reports today that the ice shelves in southern Antarctic peninsula are retreating and this could lead to increased glacier retreat on the continent and sea level rise.

Climate change is being blamed and here is why: data shows every ice front in this section of the peninsula has been retreating from 1947 to 2009, but the most dramatic changes have come since 1990.

These shelves help hold in place the ice sheet that covers 98 percent of Antarctica.  If they disappear or break off then ice from glaciers and ice streams can flow into the ocean raising sea level. 

Anne Thompson is NBC News' chief environmental affairs correspondent.