According to news from the European Space Agency, the Wilkins Ice Shelf
is “hanging by its last thread” to the Antarctic Peninsula The
researchers are studying satellite images that show continuing
disintegration of the shelf and a fracture in the ice bridge connecting
the shelf to land. The bridge helps stabilize the ice shelf, and its
collapse could hasten the break-up of the shelf.
Surprising to scientists at the European agency and other research centers is the fact that the break-up is occurring in the Antarctic winter. One news headline read: “Even the Antarctic Winter Cannot Protect Wilkins Ice.” In addition, these first-ever recorded winter break-ups are different from earlier events this year. Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center noted that the pieces are moving out as large bergs and not as a divided mixture of ice.
::: Scientists Surprised by Midwinter Collapse of Massive Ice Shelf
From July 12, 2008:
Even the depths of winter are proving unable to halt the climate change-induced collapse of an Antarctic ice shelf.
When the Wilkins shelf began a runaway disintegration at the end of last summer, scientists thought it unlikely the collapse would continue through the pole's coldest months.
But satellite images show losses growing in recent days, so that at last sight, only a thin and fractured ice bridge held the bulk of the giant shelf in place. Its loss would put the rest of the 14,500- square-kilometre ice shelf at risk, the European Space Agency said.