Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Huge chunk of Wilkins Ice Shelf collapses

When the Wilkins Shelf ice bridge shelf collapsed earlier in April, it was the beginning of the end of the whole shelf.  Today, a 270 square mile chunk of the northern ice front of the Wilkins Ice Shelf broke off.  This latest loss from the Wilkins adds to the 150 square miles of icebergs formed by the ice bridge collapse and another 60 square miles of icebergs that have broken off since the ice bridge collapse.  All told nearly 500 square kilometers of ice have broken up.  Scientists estimated that the Wilkins ice shelf could lose a total of 500 to 2,000 square miles after the ice bridge shattered.  The loss of Wilkins and nine other ice shelves does not raise sea levels significantly because the ice is floating and already mostly submerged by the ocean  However, the ice shelfs are almost a dike holding back ice sheets on land.  The loss of the ice shelfs allows that land ice to move faster into the ocean, causing substantial amounts of sea level rise. Reuters report


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