Watch the Wilkins ice shelf collapse in time lapse animation – looks like ‘current’ events to me

Previously on WUWT we discussed the media’s fascination with “melt” when it comes to ice shelves cracking off. Then there’s also this picture that keeps getting recycled.


http://www.ogleearth.com/wissm.jpg

It is clear from the photo above that we see a stress crack, not a melt. Now we have a time lapse satellite photo series of the Wilkins ice shelf that shows the process of currents and winds causing those stresses.

Mike McMillan writes:

Fox News is reporting that the Wilkins ice shelf bridge that’s been eroding has finally collapsed.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,518374,00.html

I went back to the old ESA sat photos and noticed something interesting.  I downloaded the gif animation and did some highlighting.

wilkins_shelf_anim

In the upper area, the shelf was previously fractured, then glued together by new ice.  I highlighted a string of drift ice in green to show what the currents were doing during the previous collapse.  The current runs down from the top, compressing the fractured shelf and likely busting up the new ice glue.  The current then reverses, pulling the fractured shelf ice out to sea. The green drift ice looks almost like a fingertip crunching into the shelf, and clearly shows the compression.

A different process works on the lower side of the ice bridge.  A gyre pulls
off chunks of unfractured ice.  I’ve highlighted a chunk of non-edge ice in
pink, and we can watch it tumble out along with a companion berg.  Note the
sea immediately refreezes in the open areas.  One of the gif frames shows the
gyre swirling the new ice, and I’ve enlarged the frame.

erg2871

http://i40.tinypic.com/erg287.jpg

UPDATE: I slowed down the original animation to 1 frame per second, with a 2 second pause at end, per requests in comments. -Anthony

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96 thoughts on “Watch the Wilkins ice shelf collapse in time lapse animation – looks like ‘current’ events to me

  1. FoxNews says, “Average temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula have risen by 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 Celsius) over the past 50 years — higher than the average global rise, according to studies.”

    Okay…….

    But why does the press chose the 50 comparison? Why not a 25, 75 or 100 year endpoint?

    Could it be because the West Antarctic Peninsula was colder than average 50 years ago and choosing the half-century endpoint serves to amplify the temperature differential and heat up the rhetoric.

  2. Good work.

    Please slow down the animation or provide a second one that is much slower.
    It is difficult to view at that speed, when you are first trying to get a handle on what is happening.

    Thank you

  3. Fox news, I’m shocked! I thought their stories were all biased to the right-wing, evangelical, denialist point of view.

    I would also appreciate a slightly slower animation. :)

  4. Very interesting indeed!
    I see in the centre of the images a hair-thin peninsula of ice… Has this broken yet? Is it ice or a land bridge? If it is ice, and has not broken yet, why not?

  5. Ben (08:11:07) :
    Good work.

    Please slow down the animation or provide a second one that is much slower.
    It is difficult to view at that speed, when you are first trying to get a handle on what is happening.

    If you go to the ESA site you can see the individual images from which the animation has been created to view at your leisure:

    http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMYBBSTGOF_index_0.html

  6. JaneHM That sounds very reasonable when you look at http://earth.rice.edu/mtpe/hydro/hydrosphere/latest/avhrr_sst/avhrr_ssta.html
    this is a daily update by NOAA of the global sea surface temperature which as most knowledgable people are aware controls our land temperatures and climate. The SST changes very slowly and the UK is surrounded by warmer than average water. You will notice two very warm patches in the Arctic which is the cause of the Loss of Arctic ice together with prevailing winds. The Antarctic ice shelf off the western peninsular is also surrounded by warmer than average water unlike the rest of the antarctic which is colder than normal thus the antarctic has over a million sq km more sea ice than the 1979 – 2000 average the arctic has 200 000 sq km less. The reason the average starts at 1979 is that is when the satellites fist started to measure the sea ice extent. One can cherry pick isolated weather events in time and location on both sides of the argument but they have absolutely nothing to do with climate. In a similar fashion to try and debate the issue using global averages is equally futile one should look at the long term history of regions of the world, one of the best records is the oldest continuous thermometer record from central england which dates back to 1659 and can be found on climate4you.com I would challenge anyone to show any global warming in this record.

  7. Again and again we see this statement that the sea ice is “holding back” glaciers. This demonstrates a complete misconception of how glaciers move. If a glacier’s rate of melting (ablation) exceeds it’s rate of accumulation it RETREATS (i.e. it would move back from the shoreline, not towards it). If the sea ice is in fact holding the glaciers back (how does something that brittle hold back something with far greater mass?) then the glaciers must be ADVANCING. So we shouldn’t have to worry about sea level rise. Aaahh, the frustration!!

  8. Yes, can I endorse a slower video for us old ‘uns?

    So the Met Office has issued yet another ‘forecast’ of a hot summer. Hmm. ‘Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way’.

  9. JaneHM, the UK Met Office could be right this time… might rain, might not, who knows? LOL

  10. Or, perhaps provide a link with the still photos you’ve highlighted?

    You appear to be making a good point. Would like to see it more clearly.

    Again – Good work.

  11. Here’s an interesting description of the Wilkins collapse:

    http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/2/341/2008/tcd-2-341-2008.pdf

    The study suggests that the collapse of the Wilkins ice shelf (WIS) is due to a superposition of slow mechanical destabilization and rapid breakup events. Their main conclusions is that the warming Wilkins ice is prone to fracturing more than others, which explains its quite rapid disintegration. .

  12. What about the tidal effects and does anybody know what the normal levels are for this latitude? As shown on this site before the tides up in Alaska can reach 40+ feet. Don’t think even a large ice sheet could withstand this kind of shear.

  13. Here is a basic question: If Antarctica is cooling (which I believe) and the ice is growing (which I believe) won’t this growth always create areas that will “calve off” or break off at some point? I mean, sure, if the Oceans got really cold then the ice could grow all the way to Australia and eventually beyond, but when you see large chuncks breaking off – doesn’t this show it was pushed out there where the environment is not stable by the ice behind it where cooling is occurring? I’ve seen posts here that show this Wilkins area breaks off every so often and it seems like its happening more often – doesn’t that suggest it’s growing faster, leading to more numerous break off?

  14. I’m all for slower as well, and thanks, Mike McMillan and Anthony. Yes, Greg S., it seems that all corporate-owned news stations have been taken over by global-AGW-cap-and-trade corporatism. Don’t “we” have any group that can put forward fair-and-balanced mainstream news? Anthony, have you or any of your crew thought of a mainstream outlet in addition to WUWT?

  15. JaneHM: Based on the Met Office statement of September last year ‘The Met Office forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average’, I should be prepared for a cool, wet summer. No apologies were forthcoming from the Met Office after we were totally unprepared for the cold and snow, and that it cost a lot of extra money to cope with not being prepared.

  16. Confirmation bias in action. They’ve got to report on something and that darn Arctic ice isn’t playing by the script.

    And when, over time, as ice flows and the ice shelf reforms, what are the odds this will be reported by the media? Selective perception.

  17. This is not a” current event ”
    In 1990, area of the ice shelf was 17000km^2
    in 2008- area=13000 km^2
    Now, some 4000 km^2 are disapearing.
    (The animation is not updated.There is another, from April-2009 on esa.int{europeean space agency)).
    Probably ,in February next year, Wilkins ice shelf will be only 8000 km ^2.
    The Larsen B was 10000 y old, as it resulted from drilling under the collapsed area(in 2002}
    Wilkins ice shelf is 3 deg.south then Larsen.
    When drilling will be performed, they will probably show that it was in place during all the last ice age.
    Somethig who is happening for the first time in 125000 years is not a “current event”.

  18. Hi,
    I once published a post titled “Wilkins Ice Shelf Paranoia”

    http://p2o2.blogspot.com/2008/07/wilkins-ice-shelf-paranoia.html

    The part called “Disintegration. Antarctic Warming Claims Another Ice Shelf.” which hyperlinks to Earth Observatory has no images. They can be found now here:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WilkinsIceSheet/

    The Earth Observatory simply removed “Study” category and moved the text to “Feature Articles” directory.
    Regards

  19. Przemysław Pawełczyk (P2O2) (09:45:25) :

    “OT. BTW Russians made to the North Pole in trucks!
    The news emerge a few days ago but I stumble oupon it today. See the truck images here: http://p2o2.blogspot.com/2009/04/driving-special-truck-to-north-pole.html

    Thanks for the link – that is very cool. I love the size of those tires – look like balloons.

    A bit more efficient, and much less dangerous, than the Catlin adventure-thrill group excursion…

  20. Anthony, you are correct about the current flowing north to south. Incidentally, it’s a warm current that results from freshwater runoff from the Peninsula. Which probably means its at the surface and seasonal (summer).

    The gyre at the south of icesheet is probably due to the current after having flowed under the icesheet hiting a largish island on the southern boundary of your photograph.

    This current was only discovered about 5 years ago and little is known about it. For example has it strengthened in recent years due to increased melt further north on the Peninsula? Anyway it is certainly a major factor in the Wilkins Icesheet melt.

    I tried to find the link, but Google is swamped with numerous duplicate links to the Wilkins Icesheet ‘collapse’.

  21. Antarctic ice shelf off the western peninsular is also surrounded by warmer than average water

    There is no icesheet north of the Wilkins icesheet on the west side of the Peninsula.

    The area of warmer water is adjacent to the land and supports the suggestion I just made about the current that flows south along the west side of the peninsula warming in recent years.

  22. The UK Met Office have been so far off wrong predicting the climate in Britain the last several years I’d bet they’ll be off again this year. Don’t forget the eruption of Mt. Redoubt in Alaska will have an effect on the northern hemisphere’s weather and climate this year. I’m betting the weather and climate will be cooler consequently the UK Met Office will be wiping the egg off their faces again.

  23. A notation on the Fox News Article referenced above: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,518374,00.html

    If you look at the top left of it you will note that it is actually from the “Associated Press”. Many mainstream media (MSM) outlets do not write much of the news that they report, rather they rely upon News Services, such as the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters, as well as Press Releases that spoon feed them “the news”. As such, one of the root causes of the MSM reporting imbalance is that the Associated Press and Reuters are heavily biased towards AWG, and a second root cause is that the skeptic crowd hasn’t learned how to draft and distribute Press Releases that communicate the facts and will be picked up by the MSM.

    There is not much that we can do about the bias at the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters just yet, but the drafting and distribution of Press Releases that communicate the facts and will be picked up by the MSM is something that we should get to work on…

  24. alexandriu doru:
    ‘Somethig who is happening for the first time in 125000 years is not a “current event”.’

    From what I can tell by your post I think you have misinterpreted the title (as I did when I initially opened this article), in context “current” refers to oceanic currents, and the idea that these are a substantial cause of the present state of the Wilkin’s Ice Shelf.

  25. As a former resident of the UK just about every day could be forecasted the same; Cloudy with some sunshine and rain at times.

    How do you know that it’s summer time in the UK ? The rain is warmer.

    I thought that the Hadley Center doubled down on their hot year prediction for 2010 a few months back ? Was that before or after the sea ice forming in Poole Harbour ?

    If you keep forecasting the same thing sooner or later you will be right. Even a stopped clock is perfectly accurate twice a day.

  26. Sorry I mean 2009 not 2010 – currently working on budgets for next year so I have 2010 on the brain.

  27. The BBC has an arctic story that isn’t about the Catlin survey

    “Testing times for Arctic research”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8021778.stm

    “The BBC visits the most northerly human settlement on earth to see how scientists are measuring changes to our atmosphere. ”

    “The day before our visit, the site measured CO2 levels of 394 parts per million. “

  28. There is not much that we can do about the bias at the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters just yet, but the drafting and distribution of Press Releases that communicate the facts and will be picked up by the MSM is something that we should get to work on…

    Actually we are doing it by posting here. Fox news ran a segment on the German overflight of the ice yesterday and its “surprising thickness”. I have noticed recently that certain Fox news programs may be watching this blog as on several occasions items that get mentioned here get mentioned very soon after on some of their shows.

    Like any news service they look for story leads where they can find them, and the combined culling of the worlds news that finds its way to this blog is in effect a free research service for the news organizations that are willing to use it for picking up interesting information quickly.

    Larry

  29. Late Wed evening I sent the following to the Fox News web site:
    I have three questions about the ice breaking away from Antarctica: ONE: Has this ever happened before, and when? TWO: If the ice is already floating in the sea, how can it hold back a glacier that has its bottom on land? THREE: If the ice shelf is in the sea would it not be buffeted by storm waves and tides so as it grows and extents farther into the sea it might be more inclined to fracture. If so, would this not be a sign that the ice has been growing, and like a floating dock pushed around more the farther out it is extended? But unlike a dock, it is not hinged, and so doesn’t it have to break at some point? As you might guess from these questions, I’m not convinced this activity is related to global warming. I think these scientists are seeing a cause they expect to find and not looking for other, more direct, causes. To be “Fair & Balanced” I think you need to have another go at this story.

  30. Alex (08:32:01) :
    . . .I see in the centre of the images a hair-thin peninsula of ice… Has this broken yet? Is it ice or a land bridge? If it is ice, and has not broken yet, why not?

    It was part of the shelf, floating, and it’s gone. The majority of the Wilkins shelf is still there, more sheltered than the bridge out to the island.

  31. hotrod (10:58:05) : “Actually we are doing it by posting here.”

    True to an extent, but this site only reaches the MSM outlets that visit it, whereas a Press Release issued using a service such as PR Newswire http://www.prnewswire.com/ has the potential to reach thousands of MSM outlets and to be picked up by hundreds of them.

  32. Stop the presses! President Obama just released his Arctic ice forecast in remarks he made in Missouri yesterday!

    “So this is no joke. And the science shows that the planet is getting warmer faster than people expected. Even the most dire warnings, it’s gotten—it’s moved forward faster than anybody expected. They’re talking about, just in a few years, during the summer, there won’t be any ice in the Arctic, something we have never seen before. So we have to do something about it.”

    (See ICECAP for more details…http://www.icecap.us/)

    I propose a massive ice cube donation drive! Everyone in America can donate one tray of ice cubes from their freezer. These will be trucked to the Arctic in those Russian-made trucks that recently made it to the North Pole (or optionally to be hand carried by the Catlin Expedition). Save the Arctic!!

  33. John Galt (10:58:58) :
    When ice becomes thick enough the crystals compress and flatten much like a deck of playing cards. Increasing mass causes the ice to slide down slope or outward from the highest/thickest place. Warm temperatures can cause ablation (melting, evaporation, iceberg calving and sublimation)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ablation_zone

    but it is possible for the snout of the ice to be moving forward more rapidly than it is ablating – so it is not receding. [I think the extreme flattening of the crystals also contribute the blue color one sees when looking at old glacial ice. Perhaps someone with an optics background might comment on that.]

  34. The following article Rapid climate change in the ocean west of the Antarctic Peninsula during the second half of the 20th century contains an interesting graphic of “Decadal surface temperature anomalies in the vicinity of the Antarctic Peninsula.”

    Fifty years ago, the area experienced a cold anomaly, now it is experiencing a warm anomaly.

    When the media cites “increases in temperature over the last 50 years”, isn’t that a lot like attributing the change in temperature between January and July to “a warming trend”?

  35. Re: wattsupwiththat (10:04:16) :

    A slower animation has been posted, please refresh. – Anthony

    You must have already refreshed to read the above post :)

  36. Whilst this work was specific to ice bergs it would not seem too great a leap to think it would also apply to ice shelves.

    Alaska Science Forum May 12, 1983 – Polar Ice: Problems with a Potential Natural Resource, http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF6/606.html

    Squire and his colleagues mounted “strainmeters” on a number of icebergs in the Antarctic and monitored the small distortions resulting from the “surf” around the bergs’ margins. It was found that each iceberg has a unique resonant frequency of vibration, depending on its size and shape.

    Although it would seem that ordinary ocean waves should have little effect on such a massive body, if the wave frequency matches that of the iceberg (or of one of its harmonics), the expansion and contraction induced could build to the point where the iceberg shatters. A good analogy, says Squire, would be that of a singer’s voice shattering a wine glass.

    The process is then repeated with the smaller pieces, each of which has a higher resonant frequency, until the bulk has been reduced to the point that only waves of unattainable frequency could damage it further.

  37. GoreacleWarmites have changed their lexicon: the new phrase is:

    “atmospheric warming”.

    “There is little doubt that these changes are the result of atmospheric warming,” said David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey.”
    …-

    “Satellite shows Antarctic ice shelf breaking away”
    urlm.in/chib

  38. Philip B , My bad, the west side of the peninsular is ice free for 6 months the east side has quite a large ice sheet all year per climate4you sea ice. I agree that the ocean currents and prevailing winds are the primary cause of ice variations.

  39. Watch the grass not grow – too cold
    Watch the paint not dry – too humid
    Watch the blue line reach for the grey line – too cool!

    What a strange pasttime.

  40. Peter Plail (11:43:07) :
    I’m confused – on April 6th the ice bridge to Charcot island was reported to have collapsed (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=37806) but on the pictures above there still seems to be a connection. Am I missing something?

    Yes, the images you refer to are dated last fall, the ones I linked to are current and show the complete destruction of the ice bridge.

    http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMYBBSTGOF_index_0.html

    Here’s link from a couple of days ago showing where the bridge used to be.

  41. Way OT

    In response to a headline on RC about the line in the NYT Rivken story about how oil industry knowingly buried conclusions confirming warming, I posted the following complete industry memo quote contradicting the story onto the thread:

    (Line the NYT jumped on: ‘The potential for a human impact on climate is based on well-established scientific fact, and should not be denied.) While, in theory, human activities have the potential to result in net cooling, a concern about 25 years ago, the current balance between greenhouse gas emissions and the emissions of particulates and particulate-formers is such that essentially all of today’s concern is about net warming. However, as will be discussed below, it is still not possible to accurately predict the magnitude (if any), timing or impact of climate change as a result of the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations. Also, because of the complex, possibly chaotic, nature of the climate system, it may never be possible to accurately predict future climate or to estimate the impact of increased greenhouse gas concentrations.’

    the response to the whole article is pretty interesting: http://www.climate-resistance.org/2009/04/know-your-times.

    However, this in-context response to the Rivken cherry-picking never was allowed to make it onto the RC thread.

    Seems like Stalinist etiquette reigns over at Real Climate. A real confidence builder as to RC’s objectivity.

  42. John F. Hultquist (11:05:14) :

    … it might be more inclined to fracture. If so, would this not be a sign that the ice has been growing, and like a floating dock pushed around more the farther out it is extended? But unlike a dock, it is not hinged, and so doesn’t it have to break at some point?

    Its like my cigarette, the ash doesn’t fall off because it is melting, it falls off because it is getting too large to hold its own weight, so, it grows, falls off, grows, falls off. The only difference in the Antarctic is that the snow/ice in the interior (and sea ice as well) continues to replenish this cycle. It has done so forever, and will continue to do so forever more. Nothing more to see here.

  43. I just wanted to make a comment about the pictures (such as the very top one) and a YouTube video I watched of a fly through of a similar region. These are absolutely remarkable images! Until I watched that YouTube video, I had no idea of the magnitude of all of this. The shear size and scope of what the Antarctica is all about is absolutely amazing!

    I can tell you this with absolute certainty, the general public has not one shred of a clue just how extensive, massively huge and majestic the Antarctic is. I am a fairly well educated individual and I had no clue (and probably still don’t).

    I would suggest that if one really wants to get someones attention about the “real” state of Antarctica, simply put together a “real” image of what Antarctica is really all about, and then show them the insignificance of the various ice shelf breakages, and how these events obviously take place on a fairly regular occasion. You would enlighten people to the facts almost instantly I can assure you.

    The whole reason the AGW propaganda machine is able to induce mass hysteria, is because there are too many people out there (like me) that have no clue what this all “really” means, and we need real and accurate imagery to grasp it.

    IMHO…

  44. Antarctica – 75 °C

    SPO – 2.836 m -68,6 °C (31 marzo)
    AW3 – 3.250m -72,4 °C (19 aprile)
    CON – 3.233 m -73,9 °C (19 aprile) dati incompleti
    AW1 – 4.084 m -75,3 °C (20 aprile)
    VOS – 3.488 m -75,7 °C (20 aprile)

    Regarding Vostok, last year we had to wait until May 15 (-75.8 ° C) to measure a value so low, at Dome Argus, however, even June 13 (-75.4 ° C). ( http://www.meteogiornale.it/news/read.php?id=19919 ). It should be remembered that this is not exceptional values: as already explained, in April on the Antarctic Plateau, temperatures can also break the barrier of -80 ° C

    http://www.meteogiornale.it/news/read.php?id=20017

  45. On the last picture on this post there is a spiral formed area of ice to the right of the highlighted ice sheet.
    Winds or currents causing the ice to rotate in that area I guess. Maybe thats the reason why it got ripped off?

  46. Phil. (12:40:11) :
    Thanks for that Phil. I see that it has now collapsed, but the point I’m making is that there was a lot of fuss in the press about the collapse of the ice bridge then (start of April), so if it collapsed then has it regrown and collapsed again in the last few days, or were the reports of its demise exaggerated, as seems to be acceptable practice in AGW speak?

    The text on the link I posted (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=37806) clearly said “A narrow ice bridge connecting Charcot Island and Latady Island—the last remnant of the northern part of Antarctica’s Wilkins Ice Shelf—broke apart in early April 2009.” The picture above it was used to show the location of the ice bridge when it was in position.

  47. Actually, anecdotal records from slightly higher up than Vostok Station purport to have measured -91C; but the official Vostok low was sbout -128.8 F, which is just short of -90C.

    But -120 F is an every year occurrence.

    I saw somewhere recently that the all time Antarctica High Temperature was +17 deg F. I’m a bit surprised it is always below freezing, but if I run across the table of continental record lows again I wll mention it.

    George

  48. Ice shelves may or may not be “grounded”, more or less buried or resting on the sea floor. If they are grounded, wave action would probably not have much effect on them except maybe at the edges. Contrary to popular AGW opinion, ice shelves are not static entities. They are constantly being fed by glaciers (at least five for the Wilkins), which tend to push the ice shelf out to sea. In the case of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, more than likely the bulk of the ice shelf is not grounded. There are also a number of ice rises (essentially, islands over which the ice sheet flows) within the Wilkins Ice Shelf. Two of them, Burgess and Vere (http://www.uni-muenster.de/Physik.GP/Polargeophysik/Wilkins-Schelfeis.html see top photo) are very close to where this year’s and last year’s break-ups originated (http://www.uni-muenster.de/imperia/md/content/geophysik/polargeophysik2/bilderfotos/map_feb2july.jpg). Just the pressure of the multitude of glaciers feeding it from Alexander Island would induce stress fractures, as the ice sheet flowed over these rises. The ice shelf would tend to bulge/buckle inducing tension along the crest of the bulge. This tension could result in fractures in the ice similar to what is seen in the photos. Once fractured, these fractures (even if they refreeze) become weak areas in the ice sheet. At this point, the ice sheet is at the mercy of the wind, ocean currents, and waves.

    Looks to me that the breakup is totally natural.

  49. Barry Foster (08:44:57) :
    So the Met Office has issued yet another ‘forecast’ of a hot summer. Hmm. ‘Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way’.

    Barry, there’s a lot of us shaking our heads ‘in quiet desperation’ at how our once respected institutions have been reduced to following the money. That really wasn’t the English way, but Blair and Brown have been swinging their wrecking ball for 12 years now, and the place is indeed beginning to resemble the dark side of the moon.

  50. Further research reveals this website, confirming my suspicions:

    http://www.zfl.uni-bonn.de/

    However, the authors have not forgotten who fills their rice bowls by inserting the following text “The here observed effect, which is likely to be amplified by the high temperatures and in particular due to the dynamic effect of the break-up events, however, acts destabilising.”. This, in spite of no evidence of any “high” temperatures over the past 30 years (http://mclean.ch/climate/docs/Wilkins_Ice_Shelf_con.pdf Figure 2).

  51. Here is a thout for an expedition… what if they used a submarine to go take pictures of under (obviously) unbroken ice shelves and look if there are fractures?

  52. Peter Plail (14:10:57) :
    Phil. (12:40:11) :
    Thanks for that Phil. I see that it has now collapsed, but the point I’m making is that there was a lot of fuss in the press about the collapse of the ice bridge then (start of April), so if it collapsed then has it regrown and collapsed again in the last few days, or were the reports of its demise exaggerated, as seems to be acceptable practice in AGW speak?

    The bridge did collapse in early April as had been anticipated for a few years because each year the bridge had become narrower and more precarious.
    The reports of its demise were not exaggerated, indeed the predictions of rapid further collapse following the loss of the bridge (the pinning point for the ice sheet), prove to be correct as the animation of the breakup of the main body of the sheet over the last few weeks has shown.

  53. “…totally natural”.

    But I think the whole point here is that the 10 ice bridges that have been disintegrating had been in place for THOUSANDS OF YEARS, thus indicating an overall trend towards less ice. And it requires energy(i.e. heat) to melt ice.

    Is it “natural” for earth to have this much melting? Yes if you look back more than 10,000 years. However mankind didn’t exist so we didn’t care. This time we care… a lot.

    Pete

  54. Greg S says:

    FoxNews says, “Average temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula have risen by 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 Celsius) over the past 50 years — higher than the average global rise, according to studies.”

    Okay…….

    But why does the press chose the 50 comparison? Why not a 25, 75 or 100 year endpoint?

    I think the answer to this question is likely the same as the answer to why the Steig et al. paper’s study used data starting about 50 years ago, namely that 1957-1958 was designated The International Geophysical Year (see e.g. http://www.geosc.psu.edu/~sak/IGY/ ) and was accompanied by a major effort to coordinate globe-wide measurements, with Antarctica being a particular area of focus (since it was at that time a very neglected area). As a result, most of the data for Antarctica is only available starting then. I believe before that time the data for Antarctica is much less extensive.

  55. I love looking at this stuff. It’s like the car crash on the side of the highway or something
    It’s sick but true. The picture looks so peacefull, the first one that is. Shame we are doing our part in destroying it.

    j

    mastercontrolcast.wordpress.com

  56. Pete W (16:47:53) :

    Pete – please remember, as weather is NOT climate, the Wilkins ice shelf is also NOT climate…

    Also, have a look at this before concluding that antarctica is “indicating an overall trend towards less ice. ”

  57. lurkerbelow (18:36:39) :

    “Shame we are doing our part in destroying it. ”

    Please prove this…

  58. I am curious to know how high above the water is the sheet edge that starts in the bottom-right of the color photo and extends to the middle of the photo. Also, about how long are the sheets in the picture. I am clueless as to their scale. Can anyone help me on that? Thanks!

  59. Pete W.,

    You’re missing the point. There hasn’t been any heat or energy (other than kinetic) to melt the ice (and the kinetic energy is not melting the ice, but is fracturing the ice). Do you see any evidence of melting in any of the photos above? The breakup is doing the fracturing. Did you even bother reading any of the links I provided?

  60. Are there any images of Antarctica showing absolute temperatures? Such a picture might show in red, only the areas known to have ever risen above the melting point.

  61. Phil,

    please explain why the breakup of floating ice is a problem. Isn’t it because you ASSume that warming is melting the glacier itself?? Doesn’t pay to believe junk science like Steig et. al. If the whole peninsula melted there would be little world wide effect. Of course, with the recorded temp trend there, it isn’t happening for hundreds of years!! The weather cycles will change many times during that period.

    Also, let us know your thoughts on the latest reports from Greenland where the Galloping Glaciers have dropped back to their normal walk!! It really sucks to be a warmist when all the data points are turning against you!!

  62. It’s a pleasure to see the high level of the discussion here and the high standards for the arguments put forward. So much better than the hysterics nearly everywhere else about how the Republicans and SUV drivers are wantonly destroying the earth one melting glacier/drowning polar beat at a time.

    Two-and-a-half questions:
    1. Regarding the Wilkins ice shelf – since the story about the collapse suggests warming is the cause, do we know the trend in water temperature around the shelf? I ask because one post here said the highest recorded temperature in Antarctica was 17 deg F, and it seems to this non-climatologist that an increase in spring temps. from, say, -5 deg F to 5 deg F wouldn’t start “melting” ice. So
    1A. Is it true, as the link http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.south.jpg suggests, that total Antacrtic sea ice is more than 1 million km^2 above the 30-year mean? If so, why isn’t the purported rise in surface temperatures reducing overall sea ice, rather than just ravaging the Wilkins shelf?

    2. What are the facts behind Pres. Obama’s assertion that “during the summer, there won’t be any ice in the Arctic”? Is complete disappearance imminent, or even an anomalous decrease from recent norms?

  63. kuhnkat (21:00:44) :
    Phil,

    please explain why the breakup of floating ice is a problem. Isn’t it because you ASSume that warming is melting the glacier itself??

    There’s no glacier, any melting would be at the base of the sheet ice as I explained earlier.

    Doesn’t pay to believe junk science like Steig et. al. If the whole peninsula melted there would be little world wide effect. Of course, with the recorded temp trend there, it isn’t happening for hundreds of years!! The weather cycles will change many times during that period.

    Also, let us know your thoughts on the latest reports from Greenland where the Galloping Glaciers have dropped back to their normal walk!! It really sucks to be a warmist when all the data points are turning against you!!

    Does it? I wouldn’t know.

  64. David (21:11:50) :

    1. Regarding the Wilkins ice shelf – since the story about the collapse suggests warming is the cause, do we know the trend in water temperature around the shelf?

    I guarantee it’s above the melting point of sea water.

    1A. Is it true, as the link http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.south.jpg suggests, that total Antacrtic sea ice is more than 1 million km^2 above the 30-year mean?

    And a couple of months ago it was below the 30-year mean, big deal!

  65. We think the Antarctic never rises above freezing. But there are also very few data points collecting real temperature data down there. Wave action plays a large part in ice breakup. There is a lot of info on this link about the disagreement as to whether it is warming or cooling. It appears to me that the center of Antarctic is cooling, and the edges (where these ice bridges exist) are warming. It is also mentioned that climate models actually predict that there will be more than enough snow over the next 50 years to counter-act Antarctic ice loss, particularly since the hole in the ozone down there helps to keep it cooler. The Antarctic is supposed to remain frozen for a long time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctica_cooling_controversy

    Regarding Obama’s concern about the Arctic, I found the following interesting link. Even though the ice extent appears “normal” right now, they believe it is thinner than normal, and therefore is more susceptible to melt this summer. The summer melt has begun and won’t be done until September. So we will see some real measurable results in just a few months. This will be fun, won’t it?

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    Pete

  66. Sir
    I and a a friend who has experience at aerial analasys took a good look at the original Wilkins affair and it was obvious that movement of a big ice mass was responsible for the accident to the glacier which was rammed and shattered .The cracks from the shock wave were evident in the photos as was the displacement of the floating ice to the North which was moved about 5kms what is happening now is the ongoing history . As the Atlantic Ocean temperature is rising the warmer water circulating in the Southern Ocean is going to make it’s effects known .This Peninsula is a very prominent piece of land and ice

  67. I’ve assembled the recent Wilkins aftermath shots into an animation. Pretty boring.
    The old ice bridge is overlaid on the first frame, and the islands are underlaid into the missing data regions to make it easier to follow.

  68. Hi Anthony,

    Great blog… stupid question.. how can I subscribe? :)
    Thanks, couldn’t see anywhere to do so…

    Cemanthe

  69. David (21:11:50) :

    “2. What are the facts behind Pres. Obama’s assertion that “during the summer, there won’t be any ice in the Arctic”? Is complete disappearance imminent, or even an anomalous decrease from recent norms?”

    David – there are no facts. This is one of the most uninformed and ridiculous statements made by an American president in my lifetime (and I am 47 years old). In fact, you should read the president’s statement in its entirety here:

    http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/2009/04/missouri-april-29-2009-president-obama.html

    One more point – the fact that the scientists in the AGW establishment have NOT come out and corrected and/or “clarified” the president’s remarks speaks volumes about their integrity…

  70. I personally do think that people are responsible for global warming and it is a real concern but know matter what anyone thinks about it can anyone really disagree with the solutions. More green spaces, less dependence on fossil fuels, renewable resources, and more efficient forms of transportation. How can anyone not be in favor of these solutions. Even with out global warming in the equation are not these ideas beneficial to the world as a whole. Waywardwind

  71. We can do something from our own side to reduce the generation of CO2. For example, you can walk rather than drive if the way is not so far.

  72. I did find some information in the following link regarding what air temperatures are usually like in the Antarctic. You need to keep in mind that 0C is the temperature that clean water freezes. Salt water doesn’t freeze until something like -4C?

  73. Thank you for this… I appreciate the work. I am going to show this to everyone!
    People need to realize that “global warming” is just as big of a “pandemic” as the “Swine Flu.” Ridiculous!

  74. Good link Paul. Thanks. The winter cycle has just begun down there, and it is freezing back over again. It will be interesting to see how far back it recedes next summer.

    I think the real newsworthiness of the Antarctic ice bridges is that climate models had predicted that the Antarctic ice would initially cool and increase in volume while the rest of the earth warmed. They are now being forced to re-evaluate this prediction since the Antarctic air temperatures over the last 20 years indicate a warming trend over most (but not all) of this continent. I suspect they underestimated the warmth coming from the oceans, but that is just my uneducated guess.

    Pete

  75. I’m leaving another comment so that I can subscribe to your blog… I’m still new to WordPress and didn’t realize that you had (or could) click to subscribe when you were posting a new comment…

  76. LOWER LEFT AREA, relatively open to the sea

    Your color photo might also represent a stress crack that is due to melting underneath. With less ice to provide flotation, the breakaway ice separates and falls down.
    Your argument might be better made on the 03-05-2008 photo. There, in the
    lower left corner of the photo, notice the right end of the ice shelf bridge. There the separation is apparently occurring away from the water’s edge. And those long straight lines suggest that there are other things happening.
    But, otherwise, the separations are generally parallel to the face (the line of contact with the water). And this is what would be expected if there were melting below. With less flotation holding it up, the block falls down.
    The shear face might occur at a pre-existing weakness in the ice; i.e., where it is (or has been) under stress.

    UPPER RIGHT AREA, protected

    There are no new separations to see on the bridge itself.
    For the loose ice, the major breaks are parallel to the contact with the water. Which suggests melting below. But, its hard to visualize just how the warm water would act…behind all the ice in front.
    So, anyway, I couldn’t say that it was only warm water that broke up all this ice. But, it would suffice.

  77. Dave the Denier (19:45:42) :
    I am curious to know how high above the water is the sheet edge that starts in the bottom-right of the color photo and extends to the middle of the photo. Also, about how long are the sheets in the picture. I am clueless as to their scale. Can anyone help me on that? Thanks!

    A neighborhood guess would be around 65 to 80 feet high, 20 to 25 m. The animation is oriented north/south, so if the photo is indeed of the bridge area, with the sun off to the left, the icebergs would be cracking off the south (swirly) side of the bridge.
    I think the photo was taken prior to the animation period, when the bridge was wider.

    For scale, the pink iceberg in the animation is 6½ miles long by 1½ miles wide, 10½ x 2½ km.

  78. Always these close-up views of the Wilkins Ice Shelf area.

    Next time there’s coverage of such a story, and to put it in a larger context, how about using an NSIDC image of Antarctic sea ice extent. Even now, while the extent hasn’t reached its max, the area of Wilkins is laughably miniscule:

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