Monday, 21 August, 2017

Giant iceberg breaks off Antarctica

Giant iceberg breaks off Antarctica Giant iceberg breaks off Antarctica
Mike Hodges | 13 July, 2017, 00:20

One of the biggest icebergs on record has broken away from Antarctica - and it could have devastating consequences.

The Larsen C ice shelf, one of the biggest icebergs in recorded history is about 6,600 square kilometres in total, according to the European Space Agency (ESA) broke off of the West Antarctic ice shelf.

It appears that the rift causing the split had branched multiple times, meaning that the iceberg is likely to break into smaller pieces over time.

On Wednesday, a US satellite observed that an existing crack in the Larsen C Ice Shelf appears to have broken through.

Scientists from Swansea and Aberystwyth universities in Wales have been monitoring the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, where a large crack had grown over the previous year.

On Wednesday morning, July 12, a massive iceberg was finally confirmed to have broken off after scientists looked at the area's latest satellite data.

It's more than twice the size of Luxembourg and contains as much water as all of Lake Ontario. "Scientists, aware of these processes, are likely to adjust sea level rise calculations, reflecting higher levels arriving sooner than now projected".

Dr. Martin O'Leary says the event is natural and not related to people's climate change.

The 2,200-square-mile block is about the size of DE (or twice the size of Luxembourg) and contains a volume of ice twice the size of Lake Erie.

The iceberg's calving-a term used to describe when ice chunks break from the edge of a glacier-was expected, as scientists had been tracking a fissure in the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica for months.

Despite that, they will continue to monitor it.

"However, it is also possible that this iceberg calving will leave Larsen C in an unstable configuration".

"There have been some this big before", says Adrian Luckman, a glaciologist at Swansea University in the United Kingdom who leads a project to track changes in the ice shelf.

Without the protection of this outward iceberg, inner ice could be exposed to warmer ocean waters.

"Right now, it's winter down there, so it's kind of locked into the sea ice in the Weddell Sea, so it will not move too much over the next few months", he said. The real danger from the Larsen C break is that the floating ice shelf is holding back tons of ice on land behind it.

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