Lost Antarctic ice bridge

2009-04-05

in Science, The environment

Circular clothing rack

The BBC is reporting that a stretch of ice between the Charcot and Latady islands has collapsed. Further, the bridge was apparently an important structure holding the remaining portion of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in place. The shelf, which is the size of Jamaica, has been suffering major recorded losses since 2008, and its total disappearance would represent the largest loss of ice in the Antarctic region in recorded history.

Three satellites are monitoring the shelf either daily or more often: the European Space Agency’s Envisat, and NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. Uncertainty about the ice dynamics of western Antarctica is a major source of uncertainty in projections of future sea level rise associated with climate change.

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. April 6, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Wilkins ice shelf collapse
6 April 2009

The imagery from ESA (animation here) tells the recent story quite clearly – the last sliver of ice between the main Wilkins ice shelf and Charcot Island is currently collapsing in a very interesting way (from a materials science point of view). For some of the history of the collapse, see our previous post. This is the tenth major ice shelf to collapse in recent times.

. April 29, 2009 at 5:03 pm

New York-sized ice cap collapses off Antarctica

ALISTER DOYLE

Reuters

April 28, 2009 at 8:48 AM EDT

TROMSOE, Norway — An area of an Antarctic ice shelf nearly the size of New York City has broken into icebergs this month after the collapse of an ice bridge widely blamed on global warming, a scientist said today.

“The northern ice front of the Wilkins Ice Shelf has become unstable and the first icebergs have been released,” Angelika Humbert, glaciologist at the University of Muenster in Germany, said of European Space Agency satellite images of the shelf.

Ms. Humbert said about 700 square kilometres of ice, bigger than Singapore or Bahrain and almost the size of New York City, has broken off the Wilkins this month and shattered into a mass of icebergs. She said 370 square kilometres of ice had cracked up in recent days from the Shelf, the latest of about 10 shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula to retreat in a trend linked by the UN Climate Panel to global warming.

. August 14, 2009 at 11:39 am

Antarctic glacier ‘thinning fast’

By David Shukman
Science and environment correspondent, BBC News

One of the largest glaciers in Antarctica is thinning four times faster than it was 10 years ago, according to research seen by the BBC.
A study of satellite measurements of Pine Island glacier in west Antarctica reveals the surface of the ice is now dropping at a rate of up to 16m a year.

. November 23, 2009 at 8:42 am

East Antarctic ice began to melt faster in 2006-study

By Nina Chestney

LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) – East Antarctica’s ice started to melt faster from 2006, which could cause sea levels to rise sooner than anticipated, according to a study by scientists at the University of Texas.

In the study published in Nature’s Geoscience journal, scientists estimated that East Antarctica has been losing ice mass at an average rate of 5 to 109 gigatonnes per year from April 2002 to January 2009, but the rate speeded up from 2006.

The melt rate after 2006 could be even higher, the scientists said.

“The key result is that [we] appear to start seeing a large amount of ice loss in East Antarctica, mostly in the long coastal regions (in Wilkes Land and Victoria Land), since 2006,” Jianli Chen at the university’s centre for space research and one of the study’s authors, told Reuters.

“This, if confirmed, could indicate a state change of East Antarctica, which could pose a large impact on global sea levels in the future,” Chen said.

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