Wilkins Ice Shelf Collapse
The news of this week has been the collapse of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica, raising fears in scientists that the rate of global climate change is greater than previously thought.
On 5th April 2009 a thin ice bridge connecting the ice shelf to Charcot Island snapped. This 40km ice bridge was acting as a brace, holding the ice shelf in place, and although the ice shelf is still attached to Latady Island, scientists believe that this ice bridge is likely to break as well, leaving the ice unconnected to the Antarctic continent. Satellite imaging appears to show that the ice shelf is currently breaking up into hundreds of ice-bergs.
The events have alarmed scientists as it appears that the rate of climate change is greater than previously estimated. Although the collapse of the ice shelf itself is not expected to cause sea levels to rise, the fear is that glaciers that the shelf holds back will now move into the sea and melt at a greater rate, causing sea levels to rise.
The effects of global warming are visible in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
The news comes not long after the Earth Hour event, which was a global call for the world to decisively act to address greenhouse gas emissions which scientists believe is the leading of global climate change.
All images courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.