Antartic's huge ice shelf begins to collapse

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London, Mar 26 (UNI) An ice shelf of 5,000 square miles on the Antarctic Peninsula has started to collapse due to Global Warming, scientits claim.

Satellite images from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre showed rapid disintegration of the Wilkins ice shelf on the western Antarctica. The ice shelf is a broad sheet of permanent floating ice that is located about 1,000 miles south of South America.

The collapse of the shelf had been predicted, but is happening more quickly than expected, scientists said.

It is thought the warming of the atmosphere, which has been happening several times faster on the Antarctic Peninsula than the global average, has melted more surface ice, which is weakening the shelf.

''Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened. I didn't expect to see things happen his quickly.

The ice shelf is hanging by a thread, we'll know in the next few days or weeks what its fate will be,'' prof David Vaughan, of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said.

Although the summer melting period in Antarctica is coming to an end, making it unlikely there will be further collapse before next year, Prof Vaughan said a major storm in the coming days could accelerate the disintegration.

''Climate warming has pushed the limit of viability for ice shelves further south - setting some of them that used to be stable on a course of retreat. The Wilkins breakout won't have any effect on sea level because it is floating already but it is another indication of the impact of that climate change,''the Daily Telegraph quoted prof Vaughan as saying.

UNI XC ARB HT1235

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