A 160-mile square mile (four times the size of Paris) chunk of ice broke off yesterday in Western Antarctica. The ice is part of the Wilkins Ice shelf, which at one time covered over 13,000 square miles. However, the rising temperatures have impacted it severely over the years. The picture above shows the rapid breaking of this ice shelf.
It now spans about 8,000 square miles and is attached to the Antarctica Peninsula by just a thin layer of ice, an area measuring 25.5 by 1.5 miles. If the ice shelf gets detached completely, scientists estimate that we will lose more than half of the remaining ice in the next few years.
While scientists had predicted the melting of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in the early 1990's, they had estimated it to take at least 30 years. They attribute the faster melting to global warming - Over the past fifty years, temperatures in the Antarctica region have risen by 2.5 degrees Celsius, more than any other part of the world.
While this latest ice break will not effect the sea levels because the Wilkins Ice shelf is already floating, the disappearance of ice shelves could cause connected glaciers to melt and flow into the Oceans, which would result in higher sea levels.
Researcher Jim Elliot, who went to investigate this latest ice break, says that big chunks of ice - the size of small houses, looked as though they have been thrown around by an explosion. The video below captures the breakage quite vividly!
Let's all hope that we can do something to reverse the effects of global warming before it's too late. Remember you all can help - starting this Saturday night by observing Earth Hour.
sources: smh.co.au, theage.com.au