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Antarctic Wilkins Ice Shelf Breaks Up Further Even in Winter

The Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica has experienced further break-up with an area of about 160 km2 breaking off from 30 May to 31 May 2008. ESA’s Envisat satellite captured the event—the first ever-documented episode to occur in winter.

Wilkins Ice Shelf, a broad plate of floating ice south of South America on the Antarctic Peninsula, is connected to two islands, Charcot and Latady. In February 2008, an area of about 400 km² broke off from the ice shelf, narrowing the connection down to a 6 km strip; this latest event in May has further reduced the strip to just 2.7 km.

An animation, comprising images acquired by Envisat’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) between 30 May and 9 June, highlights the rapidly dwindling strip of ice that is protecting thousands of kilometers of the ice shelf from further break-up.

According to Dr Matthias Braun from the Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces, Bonn University, and Dr Angelika Humbert from the Institute of Geophysics, Münster University, who have been investigating the dynamics of Wilkins Ice Shelf for months, this break-up has not yet finished.

The remaining plate has an arched fracture at its narrowest position, making it very likely that the connection will break completely in the coming days.

— Braun and Humbert

The Antarctic Peninsula has experienced extraordinary warming in the past 50 years of 2.5°C, Braun and Humbert explained. In the past 20 years, seven ice shelves along the peninsula have retreated or disintegrated, including the most spectacular break-up of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002, which Envisat captured within days of its launch.



Set the option here to 'southern' and see that the S pole sea ice is 11.5 million sq km. Set the option to 'extent anonamilies' and note that this is .8 million sq kilometers above the avearge (NASA data):

There is MORE S Hemisphere sea ice.

And note this 460 km of ice breaking, NOT melting,is compared to 800,000 sq km MORE sea ice. This breaking ice is LESS than .01% of the GROWTH in sea ice above the average.

These reports are UNBALANCED in perspective.


Good point,
the NSIDC links this site in relation to explaining how extent and melting are not one and the same


And that none of this is really exceptional as ice has been rapidly changing for 250k years:


No need to be concerned. Stan will explain why this has nothing to do with Global Warming


Did you even bother to read the article Mace?

If it's not a disaster - what good is it?



The NY Times article on Greenland ice cores? Very interesting. Points to much more variability than would b assumed by a CO2 driven climate change.


There are credible reports that the Anarctic ice sheet is larger today than at any time in recent decades. These reports were not discussed in this article. Green Car Congress needs to cite articles that collect, analyze and draw conclusions regarding Anarctic conditions in an objective and balanced manner.


AGW is not about how CO2 is the only factor in climate. It is about how climate works and the factors that go into it. CO2 is important in that we control it.

Any analysis that tries to exclusively tie only CO2 to any past climate patterns is painting a distorted picture. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that traps IR radiation. This is a fact from 19th century physics.

As for the ice sheet. This is happening in the antarctic winter. Not the summer. The antarctic, unlike the arctic, contains large land masses that usually restrict the amount of ice losses in the summer months. A breakup of an ice sheet in winter though is a much different matter. It may lend credit to the idea that the surface melting at other times is going down moulins and lubricating the glacial movement.

This may lead to a further breakup of the ice sheet.

NB. the graphs at the nsidc should be looked at the summer minimums rather that the winter maximums. Also should note that many climate models already state that there would be overall initial ice growth in the antarctic.


Could it be that GCC is beginning to accept the idea of balanced climate reporting? That is all anyone on the "skeptic" side has asked for. Congratulations GCC.


aym....good point that I described the May winter ice.

NASA data at the same NSIDC site:

..............................................Jan 08.....Feb 08.....Mar 08
Actual sea ice extent(M sq km)...6.8.....3.7.......5.5
Sea ice average 1979 - 2000......5.1.....2.9.......4.3
Amount of sea ice above the avg..+1.7....+.8......+1.2

So for 2008 the sea ice is above average. If there is more ice in the ocean around the continent, there has to be less heat. The thermal energy had to move down or up. Argos is indicating that the ocean as a whole is slightly cooler since 2003. So you can theorize that heat has left the ocean, resulting in cooler ocean, and has moved into the atmosphere. We usually don't think of the continent as drawing or pulling heat from the ocean.

richard schumacher

There's more sea ice because ice is flowing off the continent faster than before. This is not the freezing of sea water, it's the first stirrings of the breakup of the Antarctic ice cap.


Could be but this breakup, 560 sq km, is only .1% of the 800,000 sq km above the average.

arnold .

I'd like to draw the analogy Yeah ok before you say the Antarctic is not a bucket of cement.

vis invert 1/2 a bucket of watery cement and a full bucket of low slump.
One contains more cement, the other covers more area.
refer to the article link shown previously.


"There's more sea ice because ice is flowing off the continent faster than before."

Deny the science because it refuses to support your agenda.


Antarctic sea ice is 1.6 million square km above the record pace it set last year.


Antarctic ice levels are much different than that of the arctic due to the fact that there is a landmass. East Antarctica is most likely gaining snow cover but the west is losing. With that in mind, overall levels should show an increase but that was never a question. Our understanding always included the postulation that precipitation levels would increase in the antarctic as the ocean warmed due to increases in atmospheric moisture. Temperatures though show a warming in the outer areas with an increasing coldness in the interior (one theory is the ozone hole). What is worrysome is the continued breakup of the west antarctic ice sheet. Complete collapse of the west antarctic ice sheet would cause a sea level rise of 5-6m. At present, this ice sheet is breaking up, slowly, intermittently but it is breaking up.


Wilkins Ice Shelf Ice Bridge Threatens Collapse from this site.

As for the antarctic, here's the info from NSIDC.

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