Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Going Going....
A large ice shelf in the Antarctic is about to break off.

WILKINS ICE SHELF, Antarctica (Reuters) - A huge Antarctic ice shelf is on the brink of collapse with just a sliver of ice holding it in place, the latest victim of global warming that is altering maps of the frozen continent.

"We've come to the Wilkins Ice Shelf to see its final death throes," David Vaughan, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), told Reuters after the first -- and probably last -- plane landed near the narrowest part of the ice.

The flat-topped shelf has an area of thousands of square kilometers, jutting 20 meters (65 ft) out of the sea off the Antarctic Peninsula.

But it is held together only by an ever-thinning 40-km (25-mile) strip of ice that has eroded to an hour-glass shape just 500 meters wide at its narrowest.

In 1950, the strip was almost 100 km wide.

There are not many glaciers behind the ice shelf which would flow faster. However it will leave a large black spot to warm up the continent. Antarctica is warming faster than anywhere else in the southern hemisphere.

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