Wilkins Ice Shelf collapses in Antarctica highlighting global warming.

As the Arctic sees record ice melting now the Wilkins ice shelf in western Antarctica has succumbed to increasing temperatures and has collapsed following in the footsteps of the Larsen B ice shelf that collapsed in 2002.

The affected area covers 415 sq km and the collapse has been recorded by satellite images. The information was made available in a joint press release from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the British Antarctic Survey in the UK and the Earth Dynamic System Research Center at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan.

The NSIDC reports that the western Antarctic Peninsula has experienced the biggest temperature increase on the Earth, rising from 0.5 degree Celsius per decade. The collapse began on February 28 with a large iceberg breaking off that triggered the disintegration of 405 square kilometers of the shelf interior.

The incident highlights the intensity of the seasonal melt that is drawing to a close. The ice shelf has been left exposed to the eroding force of the ocean waves because the sea ice that would usually surround it is not there. While the season is over scientists await next January for further melting to continue the disintegration.

Scientists do not expect the sea level to rise as a result of the collapse because the ice shelf is already floating on the surface of the ocean and no glaciers flow into it. The collaboration of the scientists involved in observing and recording the collapse is providing data that will help them understand the mechanisms of the collapse and make predictions about changes of sea level in the future.

The Wilkins ice shelf is only one of a number that have collapsed on the western peninsula in the last thirty years. The others are Larsen B, the Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Wordie, Muller, and the Jones Ice Shelf. The continuing collapse of these ice shelves highlights the warming that the Antarctic is experiencing.

Animated images of the disintegration along with high resolution images can be viewed at the NSIDC site at the link provided here.

The link to the British Antarctic Survey’s website is also linked at the bottom of the NSIDC page for those who want more information

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~ by abstraktbiblos on Wednesday, 26 March, 2008.

One Response to “Wilkins Ice Shelf collapses in Antarctica highlighting global warming.”

  1. The latest news about climate change is so alarming (the right wing would say alarmist) as to make many people want to plant their aching heads in the sand. Some scientists using advanced computer models now argue that if we want to stop the Earth from warming, the amount of carbon we should be emitting is … none. None? As in, zero? As in, shutting down the global industrial economy? After all, global energy demand is expected to accelerate until at least 2020. Yet attempts even to slow the rate of increase of carbon emissions have paralyzed world politics for more than a decade.

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