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Satellite image of ice shelf and icebergs.
Photo Credit: Imagery Copyright 2013 DigitalGlobe, Inc./Provided through the NGA Commercial Imagery Program by Polar Geospatial Center

Bits and pieces

Satellite image captures further fragmentation of Wilkins Ice Shelf

A satellite image first captured in March and released this month by NASA External U.S. government site shows the disintegrating Wilkins Ice Shelf External Non-U.S. government site is still shedding icebergs five years after news broke that a 405-square-kilometer chunk sloughed off the southwestern front of the ice shelf. The high-resolution image above from the WorldView-2 satellite shows a portion of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and a large assemblage of icebergs and sea ice just off the shelf front.

Ted Scambos External Non-U.S. government site of the National Snow and Ice Data Center External Non-U.S. government site, an expert on the ice shelves that ring the Antarctica Peninsula, was quoted by NASA that he did not believe the most recent breakup is related to global climate change.

“I would not characterize this breakup as a direct result of climate warming, but rather an indirect result of the change in the shape of the shelf,” he said. “A breakup changes the stresses within the ice and will cause small retreats that reshape the shelf for several years. These retreats tend to happen when ocean waves can impinge directly on the shelf front.”

For more information, go to NASA Earth Observatory webpage on the Wilkins Ice Shelf External U.S. government site.