Press Release
8 April 2009

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 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

Ice Bridge Supporting Wilkins Ice Shelf Collapses

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.

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

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

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

PRESS RELEASE: Antarctic Ice Shelf Disintegration Underscores a Warming World

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.

View a series of satellite images depicting the 2008 Wilkins breakup.

16 August 1998

Collapse on the Wilkins Ice Shelf, March 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).