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The Wilkins Ice Shelf and Douglas Range, Antarctica

70.7S 74.9W

July 21st, 2009 Category: Climate Change

Antarctica - July 2nd, 2009

Antarctica - July 2nd, 2009

Icebergs continue to break off the Wilkins Ice Shelf near its connection to Latady Island (bottom left quadrant). The last time this area was observed (click here for previous article), the left side of the ice connecting the shelf to the island was cracking.

In this image, taken six weeks later, the ice around those cracks has splintered off entirely, leaving the edges smooth once again and adding more icebergs to those floating nearby in the open ocean.

Upon opening the full, orthorectified image the peaks of the Douglas Range on Alexander Island can be seen towards the top. These mountains are part of a sharp-crested range, with peaks rising to 3,000 metres.

The range extends 120 km (75 mi) in a northwest-southeast direction from Mount Nicholas to Mount Edred and forming a steep east escarpment of Alexander Island within the British Antarctic Territory, overlooking the north part of George VI Sound.

Icebergs from Wilkins Ice Shelf Float Past Latady Island

70.7S 74.9W

May 20th, 2009 Category: Climate Change

Wilkins Ice Shelf, Antarctica - May 18th, 2009

Wilkins Ice Shelf, Antarctica - May 18th, 2009

Cracks by Latady Island

Cracks by Latady Island

Icebergs from the desintegrated Wilkins Ice Shelf continue to break away from the Antarctic Peninsula and move into the open ocean.

These icebergs were previously contained by an ice bridge reaching Charcot Island (partially visible, far left), until it shattered about seven weeks ago.

In the full image, the icebergs can be seen floating off in all directions. Many can be observed left of Latady Island (bottom), others towards Rothschild Island (top).

The ice shelf and Latady Island remain connected, however fractures near the border continue to widen.

Loss of Ice from Wilkins Ice Shelf, Antarctica

70.7S 74.9W

May 13th, 2009 Category: Climate Change

Wilkins Ice Shelf, Antarctica - May 12th, 2009

Wilkins Ice Shelf, Antarctica - May 12th, 2009

Cracks by Latady Island

Cracks by Latady Island

Since the ice bridge connecting the Wilkins Ice Shelf (center) to Charcot Island (upper left in the full image) broke six weeks ago, the icebergs from the desintegrated shelf have been moving further away from the Antarctic Peninsula.

The ice shelf is still connected to Latady Island (lower left),  although fractures in the area have formed and widened.

According to the European Commission, researchers predict that the northern edge of the ice shelf will continue to discharge icebergs over the coming weeks, and it is expected to lose between 570 and 3,370 square kilometres of ice. This loss might be even greater if the connection to Latady Island is broken as well.

More Icebergs Break Off Unstable Wilkins Ice Shelf

May 7th, 2009 Category: Climate Change

Wilkins Ice Shelf, Antarctica - May 6th, 2009

Wilkins Ice Shelf, Antarctica - May 6th, 2009

Wilkins Ice Shelf, one month ago - April 8th, 2009

One month ago

More and more icebergs continue to break away from the Wilkins Ice Shelf and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Fracture zones have been forming over the last fifteen years; however a bridge of ice connecting the ice shelf to Charcot Island (top left corner in both images) prevented most icebergs from breaking off completely and floating out into the open ocean.

The smaller image is from one month ago, shortly after the ice bridge (left) broke. In that image, many fractures are visible but the space between them is still rather compact.

However, in the recently captured main image, these gaps have greatly widened and the icebergs can be seen breaking off and moving away from the ice shelf, indicating its high instability. The last remnants of the ice bridge can be seen on the far left edge.

More Cracks Form in Wilkins Ice Shelf Around Latady Island

April 21st, 2009 Category: Climate Change

Wilkins Ice Shelf, Antarctica - April 20th, 2009

Wilkins Ice Shelf, Antarctica - April 20th, 2009

Detail of collapsed ice bridge

Detail of collapsed ice bridge

Detail of Latady Island

Detail of Latady Island

Just over two weeks ago, the 500 meter wide ice bridge linking the Wilkins Ice Shelf to Charcot Island (upper left)  snapped.

The remnants of the bridge can be seen in the close-up. The bridge had been holding back icebergs from the desintegrated ice shelf. These icebergs continue to move out towards the open ocean.

The second close-up focuses on the ice shelf’s connection to Latady Island (lower left), which scientists fear could ultimately break apart as well.

In the five-day period between when these images and those from the previous article were captured, many new rifts and cracks have appeared, and the pre-existing cracks have widened. (Please click here to see the previous article).

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