Massive Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses, Alarming Scientists

Climate change is at it again

East Antarctica
A map of East Antarctica.
Jeroen, LGPL

Rarely a week goes by without there being some awful thing happening in nature that reflects the effects of climate change. Sometimes it’s salmon migration running afoul of the weather; at others, it’s allergies getting more intense. This week’s indicator is a big one — and that’s meant in the literal sense of word. Big as in “the size of New York City” big. Not just “the size of Manhattan,” which would be alarming enough on its own. The whole city. All five boroughs.

What, you might ask, was this big? An ice shelf in Antarctica, located in the eastern portion of the continent. As per a report in the Los Angeles Times, the ice shelf was located between the Conger and Glenzer glaciers. And earlier this month, it collapsed into the ocean below.

According to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute scientists Catherine Walker, this is the first time scientists have seen something like this happen. Ever. Apparently they’re pretty shaken up about it, which seems like a perfectly understandable reaction.

The ice shelf began shrinking in the 1970s, but the pace of that advanced in recent years. And now, here we are.

To make matters worse, this collapse took place on the East Antarctica Ice Sheet. Apparently, most of the effects of climate change have been seen in this ice shelf’s western counterpart — which suggests that things may have become worse than some climate change experts have felt.

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