Polar explorer Henry Worsley (right) died after breaking off an attempt to cross the Antarctic landmass unaided. He's seen here with Britain's Prince William in October, shortly before setting out on his journey. John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images hide caption

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John Stillwell/WPA Pool/Getty Images

A 2008 view of the leading edge of the Larsen B ice shelf, extending into the northwest part of the Weddell Sea. Huge, floating ice shelves that line the Antarctic coast help hold back sheets of ice that cover land. Mariano Caravaca /Reuters/Landov hide caption

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Mariano Caravaca /Reuters/Landov

A 2008 view of the leading edge of the Larsen B ice shelf, extending into the northwest part of the Weddell Sea. Huge, floating ice shelves that line the Antarctic coast help hold back sheets of ice that cover land. Mariano Caravaca /Reuters/Landov hide caption

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Mariano Caravaca /Reuters/Landov

Big Shelves Of Antarctic Ice Melting Faster Than Scientists Thought

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The author, Dr. Gavin Francis, arrived at Halley base on Christmas Eve 2002, at the height of the Antarctic midsummer, when 24-hour sunlight illuminates the vast swathes of empty ice. Courtesy of Gavin Francis hide caption

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Courtesy of Gavin Francis

Back home: Passengers disembark from the icebreaker Aurora Australis on Wednesday at a harbor in Hobart, Australia. The ship brought 52 scientists and adventure tourists back to Australia from Antarctica, where the ship they had been on got stuck in ice. Rob Blakers /EPA/Landov hide caption

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Rob Blakers /EPA/Landov

The Chinese research vessel and icebreaker Xue Long broke free from ice and was back in the open waters off Antarctica on Tuesday. Zhang Jiansong /Xinhua/Landov hide caption

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Zhang Jiansong /Xinhua/Landov

Morrie Fisher drinks at Mawson Station, an Australian base in East Antarctica, in 1957. Apparently, these sorts of amusements tend to pop up when you're bored in a barren landscape. Courtesy of the Australian Antarctic Division hide caption

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Courtesy of the Australian Antarctic Division

The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star, seen here in 1999, has been sent to help free Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy and Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which are gripped by Antarctic ice. U.S. Coast Guard Handout Photo/Reuters /Landov hide caption

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U.S. Coast Guard Handout Photo/Reuters /Landov

There's ice as far as the eye can see from the deck of the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which is stuck in the Antarctic. The captain says he and his crew can wait for conditions to improve. Zhang Jiansong /Xinhua /Landov hide caption

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Zhang Jiansong /Xinhua /Landov

Help arrives: an image from video taken as a helicopter landed Thursday on an ice floe in the Antarctic. The copter then carried passengers from a stranded ship to another vessel waiting nearby in open waters. Intrepid Science hide caption

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Intrepid Science