Ice Shelf the Size of New York City Collapses in Antarctica

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by: David Tipling/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

If you were looking for further proof of global warming, then we’ve got it here for you. Aside from worsening wildfires and increasingly destructive tropical storms, Antarctica is undergoing a kind of tragedy of its own. Satellite images, captured earlier this month, reveal a crisis of itself within the polar region. Images show a section of an ice shelf located in East Antarctica, and comparable to the size of New York City, as it collapses into the ocean. The collapse follows the breakaway of our planet’s new largest iceberg, which was born last spring.

Multiple factors tied to the recent collapse have scientists concerned.

According to ABC News, this particular collapse is worrisome for Antarctica. The outlet states it’s located in an area believed relatively stable by scientists. Stretching a distance of 460 square miles, experts previously believed that particular region was little affected by climate change. Clearly, however, this is not the case.

The recent collapse likely took place between March 14th and 16th. It marks the first time in human history that this region of the East Antarctic ice shelf has collapsed. Ice scientist Catherine Walker of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute stated scientists have never seen collapses like this in that part of the continent.

“The Glenzer Congor ice shelf presumably had been there for thousands of years and it’s not ever going to be there again,” said University of Minnesota ice scientist Peter Neff.

The collapse came as the Glenzer Congor ice shelf experienced temperatures more than 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer than normal.

Even more troublesome, the latest fallen ice shelf has scientists concerned further about collapses in this region of Antarctica. The irreversible damage to the continent signifies new uncertainty about East Antarctica’s true stability.

Future Ice Shelf Collapses Signal Trouble for Antarctica

As we know, melting at the polar ice caps signals trouble not only for wildlife. It also spells trouble for humans around the globe. However, the Glenzer Congor ice shelf collapse is even more significant. It puts cities along coastal regions, like San Diego, in serious danger.

According to Neff, the lost ice isn’t so much the problem among the current climate crisis. Instead, what’s most worrisome is the area in which the ice shelf collapses occurred.

Based on what we went over before, the East Antarctic was previously thought to be the most stable region of the polar continent. However, the massive collapse earlier this month signals things may not be as stable as previously thought.

Helen Amanda Fricker, co-director of the Scripps Polar Center at the University of California San Diego, shared additional insight regarding ice shelf collapses in East Antarctica.

In speaking to the latest collapse, Fricker said, “There is mass loss starting to happen. We need to know how stable each one of the ice shelves are because once one disappears, some of that water will come to San Diego and elsewhere.

As per the news outlet, the melting of ice shelves across the East Atlantic could see water levels internationally rise 160 feet.