Ice Shelf Breaks Away 15 Years Early

A chunk of Antarctic ice cover, seven times the size of Manhattan, is dangling off the Wilkins ice shelf. The 160-square-mile piece of Midwestern Antarctica could be hundreds to thousands of years old and began moving away from the ice shelf in late February.

Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado say that once these pieces begin to break off, the cracks fill with water, escalating the speed of the split. Scientist David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey had predicted that this collapse would happen fifteen years from now and blames the increased pace of melt on global climate change. The chunk that is breaking off of Antarctica represents 4% of the total shelf. Its movement away from the shelf will set in motion additional breakage.

Scientists fear that the rest of the Wilkins ice shelf, the size of Connecticut, is now also teetering on the brink of collapse. This new piece's movement will only help to increase the rate of that break.

Read the full Washington Post store HERE

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