Researchers said the quality and frequency of the ESA satellite images have allowed them to analyze the Wilkins shelf breakup far more effectively than any previous event.
"For the first time, I think, we can really begin to see the processes that have brought about the demise of the ice shelf," Vaughan said.
He said eight ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula have shown signs of retreat over the last few decades.
"The retreat of Wilkins Ice Shelf is the latest and the largest of its kind," he said.
The Wilkins shelf, which is the size of Jamaica, lost 14 percent of its mass last year, according to scientists who are looking at whether global warming is the cause of its breakup.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
"Signs of retreat"
Huge ice chunks break away from Antarctic shelf