The [Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica], located due south of the tip of South America, is currently hanging on by a rapidly diminishing 25-mile wide strip of ice which has narrowed to 1,640 feet at its narrowest point.
Another victim of climate change, the shelf was more than 62 miles wide as recently as 1950 and covered 6,000 square miles, or slightly larger than the U.S. state of Connecticut. As it breaks up, and pieces break free, the sea around the Shelf is fraught with icebergs as big as football fields.
In its demise, Wilkins follows in the footsteps of nine other shelves which have gone the same route in the past half-century; the three sections of Filchner (1986), the Larsen A (1995), several portions of the Ross A (2000), the Larsen B (2002), the Ayles (2005), and the Markham (2008). In total, Antarctic ice loss since 1950 exceeds 9,652 square miles, an area the size of Vermont, changing the face of a continent which has endured, intact (prior to the advent of the Industrial Revolution) for at least 10,000 years.
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