Recently pictures of “frozen waves” from the Antarctic have been floating around the internet, pretending to show that it’s so cold down under that ocean waves are literally freezing as they break. The reality is that it’s summer in the southern hemisphere, and it has been so hot that Adelaide, Australia has experienced a once in 3,000 year heat wave, and now a huge ice shelf has unexpectedly collapsed in Antarctica. The Wilkins Ice Shelf was expected by scientists to last at least another 15 years, so the collapse of this section came as a surprise. It has caused scientists to revise their expectations for the survival of the rest of the shelf, which will soon join the Larsen and others, which have already melted. The melting of floating ice shelves will not raise sea levels, but the serve as a “cork” that keeps the great Antarctic ice sheets from sliding into the ocean, which would result in catastrophic sea level increases. Many of the Antarctic glaciers are now moving more rapidly than expected, and are beginning to slide into the sea.

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