Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Huge Chunk Of Ice Collapses In Antarctica

Scientists flocked to take pictures and shoot video after a massive chunk of the Wilkins ice shelf collapsed in Antarctica.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A chunk of Antarctic ice about seven times the size of Manhattan suddenly collapsed, putting an even greater portion of glacial ice at risk, scientists said Tuesday.

Satellite images show the runaway disintegration of a 160-square-mile chunk in western Antarctica, which started February 28. It was the edge of the Wilkins ice shelf and has been there for hundreds, maybe 1,500 years.

This is the result of global warming, said British Antarctic Survey scientist David Vaughan.

Because scientists noticed satellite images within hours, they diverted satellite cameras and even flew an airplane over the ongoing collapse for rare pictures and video.

"It's an event we don't get to see very often," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. "The cracks fill with water and slice off and topple... That gets to be a runaway situation."

Scientists said the rest of the ice shelf is hanging on by a thin beam of ice and is also in danger of collapsing.

While icebergs naturally break away from the mainland, collapses like this are unusual but are happening more frequently in recent decades, Vaughan said. The collapse is similar to what happens to hardened glass when it is smashed with a hammer, he said.

The rest of the Wilkins ice shelf, which is about the size of Connecticut, is holding on by a narrow beam of thin ice. Scientists worry that it too may collapse. Larger, more dramatic ice collapses occurred in 2002 and 1995.

Vaughan had predicted the Wilkins shelf would collapse about 15 years from now.

Scientists said they are not concerned about a rise in sea level from the latest event in Antarctica, but say it's a sign of worsening global warming.

Such occurrences are "more indicative of a tipping point or trigger in the climate system," said Sarah Das, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.


Source

3 comments:

  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.

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  2. Has anyone else noticed that it looks as though it's been cut? Too many perfectly straight lines for my liking......

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  3. check this out
    http://petermerel.newsvine.com/_news/2008/03/31/1399411-ancient-city-exposed-by-melting-ice-shelf

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