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Page added on November 29, 2008

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New rifts form on Antarctic ice shelf

(CNN) — Scientists have identified new rifts on an Antarctic ice shelf that could lead to it breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula, the European Space Agency said.
A satellite image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, which could break away from the Antarctic Peninsula.


The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a large sheet of floating ice south of South America, is connected to two Antarctic islands by a strip of ice. That ice “bridge” has lost around 2,000 square kilometers (about 772 square miles) so far this year, the ESA said.


A satellite image captured November 26 shows new rifts on the ice shelf that make it dangerously close to breaking away from the strip of ice — and the islands to which it’s connected, the ESA said.


Scientists first spotted rifts in the ice shelf in late February, and they noticed further deterioration the following week. The period marks the end of the South Pole summer and is the time when such events are most likely, said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder.


CNN



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