An update on a story we first reported in March. This week, scientists report a massive Antarctic ice shelf "the size of Northern Ireland" is on the verge of disintegration. The situation is especially troubling because this is the middle of the Antarctic winter and the rapid disintegration is undoubtedly a consequence of global warming.
The European Space Agency says new satellite pictures show that the Wilkins shelf – the largest to be threatened so far – is "hanging by its last thread". Extending for approximately 5,600 square miles, it has been held in place by a thin ice bridge connecting it to an island, but this is now fracturing.
The shelf, which lies near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula, had not been expected to collapse until the early 2020s. It provides further evidence that the planet is warming more quickly than predicted.
Scientists are stunned that it is continuing to melt in the depths of winter, and believe that warm water is welling up from the ocean to attack it from underneath. So far seven shelves on the peninsula have collapsed due to climate change.
The collapse of the entire ice shelf is now seen as "imminent."
On Friday, President George Bush left the G8 summit by quipping, "Goodbye from the world's greatest polluter!"
More GLOBAL WARMING
Some Background ....
Western Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses, [R20]
News: Polar Bears, John Edwards [R20]
News: Polar Bears, Florida Primary [R20]
"International Polar Year" Begins [R20]
Only 13 Percent of GOP Believe Warming [R20]
Cheney on Global Warming [R20]
Environment: Pharrell Concert, Exxon [R20]
Warming "Very Likely" Caused By Humans [R20]
White House Pressures Scientists [R20]
GOP Names Climate Skeptic to Committee [R20]
NASA Says Global Warming "Not a Problem" [R20]