OSLO (Reuters) - An ice bridge which had apparently held a vast Antarctic ice shelf in place during recorded history shattered on Saturday and could herald a wider collapse linked to global warming, a leading scientist said.
"It's amazing how the ice has ruptured. Two days ago it was intact," David Vaughan, a glaciologist with the British Antarctic Survey, told Reuters of a satellite image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula.
The satellite picture, from the European Space Agency (ESA), showed that a 40 km (25 mile) long strip of ice believed to pin the Wilkins Ice Shelf in place had splintered at its narrowest point, about 500 meters wide.
"We've waited a long time to see this," he said.
The Wilkins, now the size of Jamaica or the U.S. state of Connecticut, is one of 10 shelves to have shrunk or collapsed in recent years on the Antarctic Peninsula, where temperatures have risen in recent decades apparently because of global warming.
It will be an intersting couple of decades.