The collapse could put the rest of the 9,000 square-mile ice shelf at risk, the European Space Agency said this week.
"Wilkins Ice Shelf is the most recent in a long, and growing, list of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula that are responding to the rapid warming that has occurred in this area over the last fifty years," David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey said in a statement. "Current events are showing that we were being too conservative, when we made the prediction in the early 1990s that Wilkins Ice Shelf would be lost within thirty years -- the truth is it is going more quickly than we guessed."
The Wilkins Ice Shelf is a plate of floating ice on the Antarctic Peninsula that is connected to Charcot and Latady Islands. Matthias Braun from the Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces at Bonn University estimates about 838 square miles of ice have broken-off from the shelf in recent months.