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April 30, 2009

New York City-sized ice collapses off Antarctica

TROMSOE, Norway (Reuters) – An area of an Antarctic ice shelf almost the size of New York City has broken into icebergs this month after the collapse of an ice bridge widely blamed on global warming, a scientist said Tuesday.

“The northern ice front of the Wilkins Ice Shelf has become unstable and the first icebergs have been released,” Angelika Humbert, glaciologist at the University of Muenster in Germany, said of European Space Agency satellite images of the shelf.

Humbert told Reuters about 700 sq km (270.3 sq mile) of ice — bigger than Singapore or Bahrain and almost the size of New York City — has broken off the Wilkins this month and shattered into a mass of icebergs.

Where did this ice shelf collapse? Was it in Antarctica, as stated several times in the story as well as the headline? Was it somewhere close to Tromsoe, Norway, evidently where your environmental correspondent was reporting from?

These two places are at pretty much opposite ends of the planet. This fact seems to have escaped your reporter and also his editor. Confusion, such as is found in this report, throws doubt on all of the reporting coming from your organisation.

John W.

Sorry, I don’t see where the confusion comes in. As you yourself noticed, the story says it happened in Antarctica, which is correct. While it might have been more sexy to have used an “Aboard the Wilkins Ice Shelf” dateline, that would not have been ethical. Our correspondent was reporting from Norway. His location and sourcing were clear: GBU Editor

A handout satellite image taken April 27, 2009 of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica shows icebergs covering an area of 700 sq kms (270 sq miles) — almost the size of New York City — that have broken off this month after the collapse of an ancient ice bridge between Charcot Island and the shelf. REUTERS/DLR – German Aerospace Center/Handout

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So basically what you are saying is:
Reporter is in Norway, had phone conversation with specialist in Germany about some photo taken by satellite in the Spring by the European Space Agency of a side of Antarctica far from the closest point of reference to this news.

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