Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mourning the Wilkins Ice Shelf

The news of the Wilkins Ice Shelf breaking apart broke my heart. I feel so helpless, in spite of living consciously and trying to find ways to green up our manner of living on a daily basis. In the face of an environmental disaster this huge I feel really scrambled, agitated, depressed. I dread when the webcam from space (below) is updated to show the collapsed bridge.....and the aftermath.

European Space Agency
Keeping an eye on Wilkins Ice Shelf -- Webcam from Space

Written days before the Wilkins Ice Shelf shattered on April 6.
"As the Wilkins Ice Shelf is at risk of breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula, ESA’s Envisat satellite is observing the area on a daily basis. The satellite acquisitions of the ice shelf are updated automatically on this website to monitor the developments immediately as they occur.

In late November 2008, new rifts developed on the ice shelf that scientists warn could lead to the opening of the ice bridge that connects the ice shelf to the Charcot island. If the ice bridge were to open, it could put the entire ice shelf at risk of further disintegrating.

The island visible in the upper left of the image is Charcot Island. The Wilkins Ice Shelf is connected to these by an ice bridge which is approximately 100 km long and only few km wide. Should the ice bridge break up due to increasing temperatures in the Antarctic spring, this would remove the stabilising factor that has been keeping the ice sheet grounded to the peninsula.

The above animation is comprised of images acquired by Envisat’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR). The ice bridge is visible as a narrow strip in the image centre. The animation is updated daily as new ASAR acquisitions become available. The individual images that make up the animation are also available in the image archive on the right navigation bar."

The Bridge

I stood on the bridge at midnight,
As the clocks were striking the hour,
And the moon rose o'er the city,
Behind the dark church-tower.

I saw her bright reflection
In the waters under me,
Like a golden goblet falling
And sinking into the sea.

And far in the hazy distance
Of that lovely night in June,
The blaze of the flaming furnace
Gleamed redder than the moon.

Among the long, black rafters
The wavering shadows lay,
And the current that came from the ocean
Seemed to lift and bear them away;

As, sweeping and eddying through them,
Rose the belated tide,
And, streaming into the moonlight,
The seaweed floated wide.

And like those waters rushing
Among the wooden piers,
A flood of thoughts came o'er me
That filled my eyes with tears.

How often, oh, how often,
In the days that had gone by,
I had stood on that bridge at midnight
And gazed on that wave and sky!

How often, oh, how often,
I had wished that the ebbing tide
Would bear me away on its bosom
O'er the ocean wild and wide!

For my heart was hot and restless,
And my life was full of care,
And the burden laid upon me
Seemed greater than I could bear.

But now it has fallen from me,
It is buried in the sea;
And only the sorrow of others
Throws its shadow over me.

Yet whenever I cross the river
On its bridge with wooden piers,
Like the odor of brine from the ocean
Comes the thought of other years.

And I think how many thousands
Of care-encumbered men,
Each bearing his burden of sorrow,
Have crossed the bridge since then.

I see the long procession
Still passing to and fro,
The young heart hot and restless,
And the old subdued and slow!

And forever and forever,
As long as the river flows,
As long as the heart has passions,
As long as life has woes;

The moon and its broken reflection
And its shadows shall appear,
As the symbol of love in heaven,
And its wavering image here.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

photo by Bryn J from this site: Animals of Antarctica



Mark said...

These changes are unsettling. Changes are part of the cycles of this planet. We will adapt one way or another to the changes that occur. We cannot allow these changes which are beyond our control tear us apart. We must trust in the Universe at it's ageless wisdom.

the watercats said...

Ahh.. jeezz...and there was me moaning about my birthday!..I heard nothing of this news over here!.. you'd think the powers that be would make it the top story!? I too am gutted to hear this. Thank you for dropping by and leaving such a lovely comment by the way, I can't believe how I haven't found your blog before... Your land is beautiful!
Cheers and all the best things!-)

Looking to the Stars said...

Lydia, thank you for sharing this. I looked for news on it and found NONE. So, thank you. The sat pic made me sick to my stomach. I know how you feel, we do what we can and then we see this happen. Hang in there kiddo, we are making a differance by what we do, no matter how small. A tiny rock thrown into the lake makes ripples and the ripples get larger the further it is away from the rock.
You are a rock and your ripples are making a differance :)

Erin Davis said...

I understand how you feel. We've been trying to really green up our lives too, but when I see these images it feels like one grain of sand on a beach. I agree that we should trust in the goodness of the universe, but also recognize that this is our doing.

Lydia said...

@Mark- You've evolved into a calmer being than I at this point. The concept of adapting one way or the other to these changes makes me shudder.....in a sci-fi sort of way. :)

@the watercats- You survived your birthday to come here to visit and I couldn't be more pleased! That's so cool the way you said my land is beautiful in reference to my blog. I truly appreciate it. :)

@Looking to the Stars- I wonder if you've had the bravery to go look at the space webcam today to see if there's an update. I just couldn't do it, but I eventually will because I think it's phenomenal that we have the ability to check it out. Check it out, as opposed to check out, as you pointed out when you said to hang in there. You're a rock too, friend.

@Erin- I feel that your comments were the perfect summation of the post. Thanks for being here.



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