Wilkins Ice Shelf News
In March 2008, the Wilkins Ice Sheet on the Antarctic Peninsula lost more than 400 square kilometers (160 square miles) to a sudden collapse. Following that event, the Wilkins continued to break up, even as the Southern Hemisphere winter brought frigid temperatures to the fragile ice shelf. Scientists at NSIDC and around the world are now monitoring the Wilkins to see if the remaining portion will break up.
This image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf was taken on April 10, 2009, by the NASA MODIS satellite. In early April, the ice bridge connecting the Wilkins to Charcot Island collapsed. For more satellite images, see the NSIDC Images of Antarctic Ice Shelves Web site.
This page provides updates and links to news about the Wilkins Ice Shelf. For more information about Antarctic ice shelves, see Quick Facts on Ice Shelves, State of the Cryosphere: Ice Shelves, and Larsen Ice Shelf Breakup Events.
8 April 2009
An ice bridge connecting the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula to Charcot Island has disintegrated, leaving the remainder of the ice shelf vulnerable to further collapse.
3 April 2009
New Rifts in Ice Bridge Supporting Wilkins Ice Shelf
The Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) on the Envisat satellite shows new rifts in the narrow strip of ice that connects the Wilkins Ice shelf to Charcot Island. For more information, visit the ESA report on the cracks at http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Space_for_our_climate/Collapse_of_the_ice_bridge_supporting_Wilkins_Ice_Shelf_appears_imminent.
26 January 2009
Daily Images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf
At the height of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, many people have been curious whether the small strip of ice connecting the Wilkins Ice Shelf to Charcot Island will collapse. The European Space Association (ESA) is now posting daily images acquired by Envisat’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR). Visit the ESA 'Web cam' from Space Web page at http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Keeping_an_eye_on_Wilkins_Ice_Shelf.
When conditions are clear, NSIDC also posts images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf from the NASA MODIS satellite (see image on right). To access more images, see the NSIDC Images of Antarctic Ice Shelves: Wilkins Ice Shelf Web page.
1 December 2008
New Cracks Appear in Wilkins Ice Shelf
As the Antarctic summer approaches, new rifts have formed in the Wilkins Ice Shelf. Satellite images from the European Space Association (ESA) showed the new cracks forming during the last week of November. For more information, visit the ESA Web site at http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Understanding_Our_Planet/Wilkins_Ice_Shelf_under_threat.
10 July 2008
Wintertime Disintegration of Wilkins Ice Shelf
According to satellite imagery from the ESA, the Wilkins Ice Shelf continued to break up during the southern hemisphere winter. To learn more, visit the ESA Web site at
25 March 2008
In March 2008, a 430-square-kilometer section of the 13,680-square-kilometer Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula rapidly disintegrated.
View satellite image series
(For high-resolution images, see contacts at right.)
Satellite imagery revealed that the western front of the 13,680 square kilometer (5,282 square mile) Wilkins Ice Shelf began to collapse because of rapid climate change in a fast-warming region of Antarctica.
16 August 1998
In March 1998, satellite images recorded a large breakup along the northern front of the Wilkins Ice Shelf. Additional satellite data gathered in August 1998 revealed that this event was a major retreat of nearly 1,100 square kilometers (425 square miles).