The assumption in all these stories that report on the Wilkins Ice Shelf, and other melting ice around the Antarctic Peninsula, is that global warming is the cause, and that they are representative of a general melt occurring throughout Antarctica. And if this were true, this would be alarming, since 90% of the world’s land based ice is in Antarctica. So is the ocean warming around Antarctica, and is Antarctica’s overall total mass decreasing?
The answer to both of these questions is almost certainly no. As this recent imagery from NOAA indicates, the southern ocean is actually colder than average. Except for a few areas directly south of the Indian Ocean, and in the area south of Patagonia and surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula, the rest of the ocean surrounding Antarctica - virtually all of the South Pacific and South Atlantic - is cooler than average. This data indicates no reason to believe ocean temperatures are causing overall loss of ice mass in the Antarctic; with the exception of the insignificant quantity of ice on the Antarctic Peninsula, they suggest the opposite.