Delaware-sized iceberg breaks free from Antarctic ice shelf

14 July, 2017, 04:10 | Author: Oscar Goodwin
  • NASA via AP

Not unlike an ice cube dropped in a drink, an iceberg - even one the size of the state of DE - will not cause the seas to overflow our shores immediately.

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

A vast iceberg with twice the volume of Lake Erie has broken off from a key floating ice shelf in Antarctica, scientists said Wednesday. There it will float free and gradually melt.

He also says that while many will want to attribute this event to Global Climate Change, a more important question is whether the changing conditions in the atmosphere or the ocean (because the ice shelf is floating, it can be melted from above or from below) are causing continued retreat that will eventually lead to collapse. "Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters".

A section of an iceberg - about 6,000 sq km - broke away as part of the natural cycle of iceberg calving off the Larsen-C ice shelf in Antarctica in this satellite image released by the European Space Agency on July 12, 2017.

Scientists said the latest iceberg break won't affect sea levels in the short term.

Scientists from the United Kingdom -based Antarctic project, MIDAS, have been monitoring the rift in Larsen C for years, following earlier research on the collapse of the Larsen A shelf in 1995 and the breakup of the Larsen B shelf in 2002.

The new configuration of Larsen C could potentially make it less stable.

One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded broke away from Antarctica this week, with the Director of the Antarctic Research Centre Andrew Mackintosh saying it may have an impact on local wildlife. "But we will be watching closely for signs of further changes across the area".

Was climate change a factor, and what happens to the region now?

But there are various forces - including weather - acting upon the ice that stretches into the ocean.

The iceberg, which is roughly the size of the USA state of DE or the Indonesian island of Bali, has been close to breaking off for a few months. Even so the calving event has pushed Larsen C's extent back further than at any other time in history, and the research team believes that this will give them an opportunity to study how the glacier will be affected by rising air and ocean temperatures. In this case, the new berg is likely to follow a similar path to the icebergs produced by the collapse of Larsen B: north along the coast of the Peninsula, then northeast into the South Atlantic.

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