Ice Bridge in Antarctica collapsing

antarctic_wilkinsA giant “Ice Bridge” about the size of Jamaica connecting the 2 islands in Antarctica ruptured, the bbc news reported.

Scientists studying the Wilkins Ice shelf say the collapse could mean that the shelf is on the brink of breaking away, and provides further evidence of rapid climate change.

Average temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula have risen by 3.8 degrees Farenheit (2.5 degrees Celsius) over the past half century, the statement said — higher than the average global rise.

Sited on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Wilkins shelf has been retreating since the 1990s.

Professor David Vaughan, the glaciologist from the British Antarctic Survey who planted a GPS tracker on the ice bridge in January to monitor its movement said the breaking of the bridge had been expected for some weeks; and much of the ice shelf behind is likely to follow.

“We know that [the Wilkins Ice Shelf] has been completely or very stable since the 1930s and then it started to retreat in the late 1990s; but we suspect that it’s been stable for a very much longer period than that,” he told BBC News.

“The fact that it’s retreating and now has lost connection with one of its islands is really a strong indication that the warming on the Antarctic is having an effect on yet another ice shelf.”

In the last 50 years, many of the Antarctic region’s ice shelves have retreated in that time and six of them have collapsed completely (Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller and the Jones Ice Shelf).

(source: BBC)