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March 19, 2002

A chunk of Antarctic ice the size of Rhode Island…
Posted by Teresa at 04:11 PM *

…a.k.a. the Larsen B ice shelf, has collapsed into the ocean. For the Rhode Island impaired, the shelf was 200 meters thick and had a surface area of 3,250 square kilometers, which comes out to 500 billion tonnes of ice sheet. It took only two months to collapse, a rate which is justifiably being described as “staggering”.

This unfolding event was reported today in a press release by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). Here’s today’s BBC coverage of the story (note that the picture at the top is actually an animation). Or, if you prefer, here’s the story as reported today by the Associated Press.

If you want to dig deeper, here’s a BAS summary of previous stories leading up to the most recent collapse. The old BAS website, which they’re gradually porting over, has a lot of interesting general information. This short summary of the overall condition of the ice shelves is from The Antarctica Project. And here’s Greenpeace’s take on things: Cum grano salis, but they do discuss some of the possible effects and implications.

This story is going to generate some wild speculations fobbed off as sober scientific predictions. In a pinch, check with the BAS.

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