Live Science on the collapse of the Conger Ice Shelf:

A massive Antarctic ice shelf that covered an area about the size of New York City or Rome just collapsed into the ocean. Scientists warn that while they do not expect significant impacts as a result of this event, melting ice in this historically stable region may be a foreboding sign of things to come.

Satellite photos reveal the sudden disappearance of the Conger Ice Shelf on East Antarctica between March 14 and March 16. “The Glenzer Conger Ice Shelf presumably had been there for thousands of years and it’s not ever going to be there again,” University of Minnesota glaciologist Peter Neff told NPR. While the Ice shelf had been slowly shrinking since the 1970s, recently accelerated melting preceded this month’s sudden and unexpected collapse.

West Antarctica has unstable ice, so collapsing ice shelves are not unusual. But

East Antarctica is one of the coldest and driest locations on planet Earth, and because of this, ice shelf collapses are unheard-of there. According to the AP, this is the first major ice shelf collapse in East Antarctica during human history. 

While scientists don’t expect any major consequences as a direct result of the Conger Ice Shelf collapse, they do warn that this could be the beginning of a troubling trend. According to Neff, ice shelves act as a buffer to protect Antarctic glaciers from melting, as they insulate those glaciers from the warm seawater. If glaciers in East Antarctica melt, they could be a major driver of sea-level rise in the coming decades. 

Ok, coming decades, so not our problem, so keep those cruise ships cruising.

Comments are closed.