Breaking up is (not so) hard to do

wilkins_ice_shelf_from_bas_.jpg “Hot” news from the Antarctic: another ice sheet is breaking up. The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a 13,680 square kilometre ice shelf on the SW coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, began to break up at the end of February. From the NSIDC release:

Satellite images indicate that the Wilkins began its collapse on February 28; data revealed that a large iceberg, 41 by 2.5 kilometers (25.5 by 1.5 miles), fell away from the ice shelf’s southwestern front, triggering a runaway disintegration of 405 square kilometers (160 square miles) of the shelf interior (Figure 1)

Here’s Figure 1:


The British Antarctic Survey flew their Twin Otter aircraft over the collapsing ice shelf. The video it took (available here) is truly amazing.

[Update: Jeff Masters posts a nice map of Antarctic warming, the BBC story includes the BAS video.]

[Update 2: NASA Earth Observatory coverage (with new pix), dompost story here.]

2 thoughts on “Breaking up is (not so) hard to do”

  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.

  2. I’m planning a post on emissions and atmospheric GHG targets. But as you say, the latest work suggests bigger cuts and lower targets, which might imply greater costs. On the other hand, the evidence of significant change is growing by the day, which might stiffen the global resolve.

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