Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Further break-up of Wilkins Ice Shelf

16.06.2008
Wilkins Ice Shelf, Antarctica, is further breaking up. After a two month rest period, a new break-up has started and is still continuing, as researchers from the University of Muenster and Bonn report. For the first time a break-up event in Antarctic winter is documented. In March 2008 a spectacularly break-up at the Wilkins Ice Shelf already hit the headlines.

Wilkins Ice Shelf is located on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula at about 70°S, about 100km south of the southern tip of South America. Dr. Angelika Humbert of the Polar Geophysics Research Group of the University of Muenster and her colleague Dr. Matthias Braun of the Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces of the University of Bonn have monitored the events, which started on 30 May 2008.

The team of researchers is tracking the development in a sensitive region, which connect the Wilkins Ice Shelf to Charcot and Latady Islands, since years by means of satellite images of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

The formerly about 15 km wide connection between the islands was reduced in its width to now only about 3 km. Satellite images show on the remaining ice plate an arched fracture, making it most likely that the remaining plate will disrupt completely in the next few days. The consequences for the entire ice shelf are not yet foreseeable.

The newly broken up ice mass was already a year ago littered with small fractures. 'The real damage was done already then' is Angelika Humbert pointing up, who already reported with her colleague about the reasons for the fracturing: buoyancy forces due to different ice thicknesses caused bending stresses in the ice. These led to fractures, which spread abruptly.

Subsequently, the unstable ice is breaking at a later point - as it happened the second time in a few month. Ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula are floating on the sea and are sandwiched between a warming ocean and increasing surface air temperatures. A possible connection to the extraordinary warming rates observed along the Antarctic Peninsula may exist by promoting melting processes on the underside of the ice.

The recent break-up shows that melt water, which was long in believed to cause as solely factor ice shelf break-up, played no role in the recent event: in the current Antarctic winter the surface of the Wilkins Ice Shelf is frozen completely.At the moment, the largest stresses in the ice are likely due to ice creep, the deformation of ice under its own weight. These stresses might have drawn the fracture faces apart and caused them to cut through. The break-up was running this time completely different from the February 2008 event: while that time the icebergs were calving directly from the ice front, this time the ice mass is breaking up from the inside out. Small sliver icebergs capsize and push the ice mass in front of it outside.

Norbert Frie | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-muenster.de/
http://earth.uni-muenster.de/polarhomepage/info.shtml

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>