Cracking up

by Gareth on April 22, 2009

Wilkins2009422.gif

With the “pin” to Charcot Island gone, big cracks that first formed in 2008 are are opening up in the Wilkins ice shelf, and a new break up is taking place close to Latady Island. The animation above uses ESA “webcam from space” images captured on April 18 and 21 (the latter has black corners). Latady Island is bottom left. Judging by the scale on the NASA image below, the big crack above bottom right has opened up by a couple of kilometres, and the whole assemblage of chunks of shelf are moving northwards. It’ll be interesting to see if new cracks form deeper into the shelf (bottom right) as the new bergs move away. Meanwhile, NASA’s Earth Observatory helpfully provides a new photo-like image of what was the base of the ice bridge, captured by the Terra satellite on April 12:

NASAWIlkins200904.jpg

And while we’re on the subject of ice, the Earth Observatory has just posted an excellent new feature article on sea ice, covering both ends of the planet and illustrated with some spectacular imagery. Well worth a read for anyone wanting an in-depth introduction to the state of play before the Arctic melt season really gets underway.

[Nick Lowe]

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