The collapse, captured on satellite images, marked the first time in human history the cold region suffered an ice shelf breakdown.

An ice shelf the size of New York City has collapsed across East Antarctica, an area long regarded as stable and hardly affected by climate change, worried researchers said Friday.

It also comes at the start of an unusual warm spell last week, when temperatures in some locations in East Antarctica rose more than 70 degrees (40 degrees Celsius) warmer than normal.

The ice shelf, which is thought to have grown to about 563 square miles (460 square kilometres) in Conger and Glenzer glaciers due to warmer water, collided between March 14 and 16, ice researcher Catherine Walker of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute said.

For the past week, a so-called atmospheric river in parts of East Antarctica has dropped plenty of warm air, with rain rather than snow, reaching temperatures so far above normal that scientists have been debating it this week.

‘The Glenzer Conger ice shelf presumably had been there for thousands of years, and it’s not ever going to be there again,’ s never going to come back to it,’ said ice researcher Peter Neff of the University of Minnesota.

Then, in 2020, the ice loss from the ice shelf accelerated, losing nearly half of it each month, Walker said.

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Associated Press

The Associated Press is an American non-profit news agency headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1846, it operates as a cooperative, unincorporated association. Its members are U.S. (wikipedia)

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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, nonprofit research and higher education facility dedicated to the study of marine science and engineering. Established in 1930 in Woods Hole, (wikipedia)