GLOBAL WARMING TO BLAME :: The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a huge Antartic ice shelf is on the verge of collapse any moment due to Global warming according to David Vaughan, a glaciologist working at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), who took part in a survey exrecise near the narrowest edge of the ice shelf. He may probably be the first and the last to plane land on a red Twin Otter plane that landed on skis near the edge of the ice shelf.
The shelf is named after Australian George Hubert Wilkins, an early Antarctic aviator who is set to join an exclusive club of people who have a part of the globe named after them that later vanishes.
"The flat-topped shelf has an area of thousands of square kilometers, jutting 20 meters (65 ft) out of the sea off the Antarctic Peninsula.
But it is held together only by an ever-thinning 40-km (25-mile) strip of ice that has eroded to an hour-glass shape just 500 meters wide at its narrowest."
In 1950, the strip was almost 100 km wide.
"The Wilkins once covered 16,000 sq km (6,000 sq miles). It has lost a third of its area but is still about the size of Jamaica or the U.S. state of Connecticut. Once the strip breaks up, the sea is likely to sweep away much of the remaining ice."
In total, about 25,000 sq km of ice shelves have been lost, changing maps of Antarctica. Ocean sediments indicate that some shelves had been in place for at least 10,000 years.
"Loss of ice shelves does not raise sea levels significantly because the ice is floating and already mostly submerged by the ocean. But the big worry is that their loss will allow ice sheets on land to move faster, adding extra water to the seas."