Saturday, May 25, 2013

Breakup Continues on the Wilkins Ice Shelf

Just as earthquakes can sometimes leave landscapes more prone to future quakes, the breakups on the Wilkins Ice Shelf left it vulnerable to further disintegration.

In addition, the sea ice that had long pressed the shelf up against the coastline moved out, putting the remnants of the shelf in direct contact with open water.

Ocean waves went to work on the ice, and in early 2013 the fracturing continued.

Acquired March 23, 2013, this high-resolution image 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.

Some of the iceberg surfaces give clues that they recently broke off from the shelf: many are somewhat lighter in color than the nearby sea ice, and some bear the same surface features as those seen on the shelf, including melt pond scars (which appear in pale blue).

Melt pond scars are areas where meltwater once pooled on top of the ice and then refroze.