Trillion-ton iceberg breaks off Antarctica

Gwen Vasquez
July 14, 2017

He also said the break off is a naturally occurring phenomenon, with big ice-shelves like the one it was attached to naturally loosing icebergs every so often due to massive build up over time.

Throughout the Antarctic winter, scientists monitored the progress of the rift in the ice shelf using the European Space Agency satellites.

One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded, a trillion-ton behemoth more than seven times the size of New York City, has broken off of Antarctica, triggering disagreement among scientists over whether global warming is to blame.

Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, said the breaking off of the iceberg "is part of a long-term major loss of the ice shelves in the peninsula, progressing southbound and resulting from climate warming".

The landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula has been "changed forever", the researchers said.

Scientists from the Swansea University-led Midas Project announced on Wednesday that the rift had finally made its way through ice and had been expected to happen for a long time. He was also of the opinion that the iceberg was unlikely to remain in one single piece but would break up into smaller pieces.

Trillion-ton iceberg breaks off Antarctica

Nonetheless, "this puts the ice shelf in a very vulnerable position", he said in a statement.

A vast iceberg with twice the volume of Lake Erie has broken off from a key floating ice shelf in Antarctica, scientists said Wednesday. "Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters", Luckman added. However, as the Times noted, this calving event reduced Larsen C's size by at least 12% and has caused some concern that the rest of the shelf could ultimately become destabilized.

"Our models say it will be less stable, but any future collapse remains years or decades away".

"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", explained Dr. Martin O'Leary, a Swansea University glaciologist and member of the MIDAS project team. However, as these ice shelves disintegrate, the land-locked glaciers they hold back may begin sliding into the sea.

"We need to watch this ice shelf and see if it heals itself or is it the beginning of a more widespread collapse spreading south toward the main body of Antarctica and symptom of something more serious to come", she said.

But it removed more than 10 percent of the ice shelf, and if that eventually hastens the flow of glaciers behind it into the water, there could be a "very modest" rise in sea level, the project said.

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