"Iceberg, Right Ahead!" One of Antarctica’s Biggest Icebergs just Broke Off from its Ice Shelf

Khryss | Published 2017-07-25 13:17

If the Titanic collapsed because of crashing on a small iceberg, seamen should really keep an eye from now on as an iceberg half the size of Jamaica just broke off.

Detected in the data of NASA’s Aqua MODIS satellite instrument, researchers from the Swansea University-led Midas project found that a 5800-square-kilometer iceberg from the Larsen C Ice Shelf just calved around July 10-12, 2017. This calving reduces the size of the Larsen C Ice Shelf by 12 percent and will change the look of the Antarctic Peninsula forever!

 “We have been anticipating this event for months, and have been surprised how long it took for the rift to break through the final few kilometres of ice. We will continue to monitor both the impact of this calving event on the Larsen C Ice Shelf, and the fate of this huge iceberg,” said Midas project lead investigator Adrian Luckman.

“The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict. It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.”

Although the iceberg is really huge, it wouldn't affect the sea level as it was already floating before it calved away. Researchers also said that the calving was a “natural event” and was not caused by human.

But don't feel too relieved.

“Although this is a natural event, and we’re not aware of any link to human-induced climate change, this puts the ice shelf in a very vulnerable position,” said Martin O’ Leary, a member of the Midas project team. “This is the furthest back that the ice front has been in recorded history. We’re going to be watching very carefully for signs that the rest of the shelf is becoming unstable.”

Opinions about the ice shelf are varied, some believes that it could regrow the calved part but other thinks that further calving events will happen and may eventually lead to collapse, Luckman said. “Our models say it will be less stable, but any future collapse remains years or decades away.”

Well, Mother Nature is indeed constantly changing (for the better, I hope). So better treasure whatever we still have now and be ready to embrace whatever new there is to come.


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