Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Huge Antarctica Ice Shelf Crumbles

A New York Times editorial about the breaking of the Wilkins ice shelf in Antarctica states, "Nothing dramatizes the urgency of global warming quite like a fracture of this scale. There is nothing to be done about a collapsing polar ice sheet except to witness it. It may be too late to stop the warming decay at the boundaries of Antarctic ice, yet there is everything to be done."

Last Tuesday, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists announced the occurrence of a fracture the size of Connecticut on the Wilkins ice shelf, which started breaking last month. Though the shelf has remained stable for the last 100 years, it is now imperiled, having lost 160 square miles of ice since February, a clear indication of rapid climate change. Studying collapses of ice shelves is critical, as these collapses may lead to the movement of glaciers which can raise sea levels.

The Wilkins is just one of several ice shelves that have collapsed in the West Antarctic Peninsula in the past three decades, the most well-known of these being the Larsen B ice shelf, disintegrating in just a month in 2002.

Read the New York Times story:

Read the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado (NSIDC) press release about the Wilkins ice shelf disintegration:

Read the joint press release from the NDISC, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the Earth Dynamic System Research Center at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan:

Find out what you can do to limit global warming and keep Antarctica cool:

photo courtesy
madhatrk, Creative Commons

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