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Ice Shelf Disintegrating, Spring 2008

Ice Shelf Disintegrating, Spring 2008

C033/6021

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Credit

SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Composite image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf disintegrating. Ice shelves are thick slabs of ice attached to coastlines. Ice shelves used to calve large icebergs, but from the mid-1990s some of them began disintegrating in small pieces, likely because of warming temperatures. On February 28, 2008, the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula exhibited such a phenomenon. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometre (MODIS) sensors on NASA's satellites provided some of the earliest evidence. Intact ice shelf appears white, and disintegrating shelf appears blue. The disintegration was announced by international institutions in a joint press release: an iceberg measuring 41 by 2.5 kilometres broke off from the Wilkins Ice Shelf on February 28, leading to uncontrolled disintegration. The four MODIS images in this series show the rapid rate of disintegration; the growing region of pale blue on the ice shelf is crumbling, water-saturated ice. Images.

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