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Antarctic Ice Shelf Disintegration 
Underscores a Warming World
Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center/NASA
Figure 1. This series of satellite images shows the Wilkins Ice Shelf as it began to break up. The large image is from March 6; the images at right, from top to bottom, are from February 28, February 29, and March 8. NSIDC processed these images from the NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor, which flies on NASA's Earth Observing System Aqua and Terra satellites. High-resolution version
Posted: 25 March 2008
Updated: 21 March 2002 14:40 MST
SOURCE: http://nsidc.org/news/press/20080325_Wilkins.html

Antarctic Ice Shelf Disintegration Underscores a Warming World 

This is a joint press release from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder; the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), based in the United Kingdom; and the Earth Dynamic System Research Center at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) inTaiwan. 

Media Relations Contacts:
Stephanie Renfrow, NSIDC: srenfrow@nsidc.org or +1 303 492-1497 (se habla Español) 
Athena Dinar, BAS: amdi@bas.ac.uk or +44 (0)1223 221414
Cheng-Chien Liu, NCKU: ccliu88@mail.ncku.edu.tw or +886-6-2757575 X65422

Satellite imagery from the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder reveals that a 13,680 square kilometer (5,282 square mile) ice shelf has begun to collapse because of rapid climate change in a fast-warming region of Antarctica.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf is a broad plate of permanent floating ice on the southwest Antarctic Peninsula, about 1,000 miles south of South America. In the past 50 years, the western Antarctic Peninsula has experienced the biggest temperature increase on Earth, rising by 0.5 degree Celsius (0.9 degree Fahrenheit) per decade. NSIDC Lead Scientist Ted Scambos, who first spotted the disintegration in March, said, "We believe the Wilkins has been in place for at least a few hundred years. But warm air and exposure to ocean waves are causing a break-up." 

Satellite images indicate that the Wilkins began its collapse on February 28; data revealed that a large iceberg, 41 by 2.5 kilometers (25.5 by 1.5 miles), fell away from the ice shelf's southwestern front, triggering a runaway disintegration of 405 square kilometers (160 square miles) of the shelf interior (Figure 1). The edge of the shelf crumbled into the sky-blue pattern of exposed deep glacial ice that has become characteristic of climate-induced ice shelf break-ups such as the Larsen B in 2002. A narrow beam of intact ice, just 6 kilometers wide (3.7 miles) was protecting the remaining shelf from further breakup as of March 23 (Figure 2).

Scientists track ice shelves and study collapses carefully because some of them hold back glaciers, which if unleashed, can accelerate and raise sea level. Scambos said, "The Wilkins disintegration won't raise sea level because it already floats in the ocean, and few glaciers flow into it. However, the collapse underscores that the Wilkins region has experienced an intense melt season. Regional sea ice has all but vanished, leaving the ice shelf exposed to the action of waves."

With Antarctica's summer melt season drawing to a close, scientists do not expect the Wilkins to further disintegrate in the next several months. "This unusual show is over for this season," Scambos said. "But come January, we'll be watching to see if the Wilkins continues to fall apart." 

Real-time collaboration 

Images from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and data from ICESat showed that the ice shelf was in a state of collapse in March. Scambos then alerted colleagues around the world, seeking to ensure that every means of gathering information was focused on the break-up. 

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) mounted an overflight of the crumbling shelf, collecting video footage and other observations. BAS glaciologist David Vaughan said of the ice shelf, which is supported by a single strip of ice strung between two islands, "Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on West Antarctica yet to be threatened. This shelf is hanging by a thread."

Associate Professor Cheng-Chien Liu at Taiwan's National Cheng-Kung University (NCKU) also responded, requesting high-resolution color satellite images of the area from Taiwan's Formosat-2 satellite (Figure 3), operated by the National Space Organization. Cheng-Chien Liu said, "It looks as if something is slicing the ice shelf piece by piece on an incredible scale, kilometers long but only a few hundred meters in width."

South American scientists also got involved. Andrés Rivera and Gino Cassasa at the Laboratorio de Glaciología y Cambio Climático at the Centro de Estudios Científicos in Chile (CECS), acquired images of the Wilkins from the ASTER instrument, aboard NASA's Terra satellite.

The combined efforts of these international teams have begun to provide observational data that will improve scientific understanding of the mechanisms behind ice shelf collapse. Scambos said, "The Wilkins is an example of an event we don't see very often. But it's a key process in being able to predict how sea level will change in the future." 

More information 

The Wilkins is one of a string of ice shelves that have collapsed in the West Antarctic Peninsula in the past thirty years. The Larsen B became the most well-known of these, disappearing in just over thirty days in 2002. The Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Wordie, Muller, and the Jones Ice Shelf collapses also underscore the unprecedented warming in this region of Antarctica. 

To view British Antarctic Survey's version of this joint release, visit the press area of their Web site at http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/about_bas/news/press_releases.php

For more information on the Larsen B collapse, see http://nsidc.org/iceshelves/larsenb2002/index.html.

Images and Movies

Mapping the new ice front line towards Cape Foyn
Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
Figure 2. During the break-up, the Wilkins Ice Shelf broke into a sky-blue pattern of exposed deep glacial ice. This true-color image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf was taken by MODIS on March 6, 2008. High-resolution version
Ship-based photos near Larsen B, 8 March 2002
Credit: Left, National Snow and Ice Data Center; right, National Snow and Ice Data Center/courtesy Cheng-Chien Liu, National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), Taiwan and Taiwan's National Space Organization (NSPO); processed at Earth Dynamic System Research Center at NCKU, Taiwan.

Figure 3. This image shows a high-resolution, enhanced-color image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica on March 8, 2008. Narrow iceberg blocks (150 meters wide, or 492 feet) crumbled into house-sized rubble. Taiwan's Formosat-2 satellite acquired this image. High-resolution version

Larsen B animation
Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
Figure 4. Click on the image to show an animation of the Wilkins disintegration (February 28—March 17).NSIDC processed these images from the NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor, which flies on NASA's Earth Observing System Aqua and Terra satellites. For a high-resolution version, please contact the press office.

Antarctic Chunk Splinters

Posted at Open Minds Forum
« Thread Started on Mar 25, 2008, 9:36pm »

By John Lear

Antarctic Chunk Splinters, Huge Ice Shelf Threatened.

Courtesy CNN:

A piece of Antarctic ice measuring 220 square miles has collapsed, and an ice shelf about the size of Connecticut is "hanging by a thread" because of global warming, the British Antarctic Survey said today. "We are in for a lot more events like this," one professor said.

Take a look at this video:


Those a pretty clean cuts. Think a DEW (Direct Energy Weapon) may have caused that?


Added by Pegasus

Here is a photo of a beam weapon being tested. You can see the snow being stirred up on the ice where the black beam strikes. Its interesting to note that this image also was taken by the Britsh Antarctica Survey... in 1966

British Antarctic Survey Mystery
Back to Antarctica


After the first part of Britain's Secret War in Antarctica was published in the August/September edition of NEXUS (vol. 12, no. 5), I was inundated with people and specialists in their field with more substantiating information. However, by far the most intriguing and exciting was an email sent to me by Miles Johnston who investigated a strange story about Antarctica with Danny Wilson whilst with the Irish UFO Research Center. The center was contacted by an Eric Wilkinson in 1975, who had reported a strange incident in 1966 when he was with the British Antarctic Survey. An even stranger photo backs up the story (see above). In Miles Johnston's own words, he explains:\

  • "In 1975 I investigated a UFO/Strange Black Ray Cloud formation, taken by a Belfast member of the British Antarctic Survey. He gave me some images of a pulsing cloud formation firing a black ray into the ice, which bounced off and reflected further away from him. Who knows... maybe someone down there is using negative energy beam weapons? Or was... since the images were taken in 1966."


The photo [above] is indeed enigmatic and substantiates the fact that Antarctica and Britain's role there are shrouded in mystery. Click on image for full size original.


About the Author:

James Robert is a civil servant with an agency of the UK Ministry of Defense, as well as a World War II historian and writer. He has traveled extensively throughout North Africa and Europe to investigate mysteries of Britain's secret wars.

With a family from a military background and with German sources giving many so-called "myths" credence, he has set a personal mission to delve deeper into the strange, suppressed, little known and anomalous activities that were conducted before, during and after the war against Germany. "Britain's Secret War in Antarctica" has been excerpted from his forthcoming book that will document some of his investigations.

James Robert can be contacted by email at james-robert@hotmail.co.uk.

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