Ice shelving is a natural activity ... but humanity is driving it in unnatural patterns and to a pace that is far faster than glacial in nature. Play this without sound first ... the very clean breaks are eerie, as if huge knives have cut through the ice.
For the video and some background material, see the US House of Representatives Global Warming and Energy Independence Committee website.
Disintegration is a natural event ...
the runaway disintegration of a 160-square-mile chunk in western Antarctica started Feb. 28. It was the edge of the Wilkins ice shelf and has been there for hundreds, maybe 1,500 years.
"It's an event we don't get to see very often," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. "The cracks fill with water and slice off and topple... That gets to be a runaway situation." The collapse is similar to what happens to hardened glass when it is smashed with a hammer, he said.Will the broken glass stop here?
The rest of the Wilkins ice shelf, which is about the size of Connecticut, is holding on by a narrow beam of thin ice. Scientists worry that it too may collapse.Thus, this event might only be a precursor to a more serious disintegration.
The part that recently gave way makes up about 4 percent of the overall shelf, but it's an important part that can trigger further collapse.As you watch this video, consider that more canaries are dying to warn us to action to stop Global Warming.
Such occurrences are "more indicative of a tipping point or trigger in the climate system," said Sarah Das, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. "These are things that are not re-forming. So once they're gone, they're gone."On the Net: