Antarctica’s newest iceberg may destabilize the entire ice shelf

August 3, 2017 by  
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For eighteen months, scientists and concerned citizens waited for a giant iceberg to break off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica. On July 12, the highly-anticipated event finally occurred . Because the iceberg, named A68, was predominantly submerged in the water before it detached, the event did not dramatically raise sea levels — phenomena which would propel natural disasters. While this is fortunate, it turns out the iceberg saga isn’t over: cracks are spreading towards a location that is paramount to the stability of the remaining ice shelf . For months, satellites have been capturing footage of the region to track the effects of climate change . After A68 broke off the shelf, satellites continued to track its movements. According to new data published by the University of Leeds, the structure has drifted approximately 3.1 miles (5km) away from its initial location. When the event finally took place, Larsen C lost about 10 perfect of its area; at least 11 smaller icebergs — some up to 8 miles (12 km) long — were also formed. NewAtlas reports that as the network of cracks continues to sweep across Larsen C, the number of icebergs will keep increasing. Related: Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water Said Anna Hogg, a researcher at the University of Leeds: “The satellite images reveal a lot of continuing action on Larsen C Ice Shelf. We can see that the remaining cracks continue to grow towards a feature called Bawden Ice Rise, which provides important structural support for the remaining ice shelf. If an ice shelf loses contact with the ice rise, either through sustained thinning or a large iceberg calving event, it can prompt a significant acceleration in ice speed, and possibly further destabilization. It looks like the Larsen C story might not be over yet.” As Inhabitat previously reported, A68 is not a direct result of climate change . In fact, the process happens quite naturally during the life cycle of ice shelves. However, it is possible that it is breaking away progressed faster than normal due to changing environmental conditions . “Although floating ice shelves have only a modest impact on of sea-level rise, ice from Antarctica’s interior can discharge into the ocean when they collapse,” said Hilmar Gudmundsson, a researcher from the British Antarctic Survey. “Consequently we will see increase in the ice-sheet contribution to global sea-level rise. With this large calving event, and the availability of satellite technology, we have a fantastic opportunity to watch this natural experiment unfolding before our eyes. We can expect to learn a lot about how ice shelves break up and how the loss of a section of an ice shelf affects the flow of the remaining parts.” The findings were published in the journal Nature Climate Change . + University of Leeds Via NewAtlas Images via Pixabay

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Antarctica’s newest iceberg may destabilize the entire ice shelf

Fractured Antarctic ice sheet will create the largest iceberg ever recorded

June 1, 2017 by  
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Due to global warming and rising temperatures, glaciers are slowly melting – and, in some cases, breaking apart. A massive 8-mile crack is steadily growing along Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf – and when it splits, the resulting iceberg will be around 1,930 square miles (5,000 square kilometers) in size. That’s as big as Delaware – making it quite possibly the largest iceberg ever recorded. CNN reports that because the ice shelf’s direction has changed, it is breaking away from the rift at a fast pace. Adrian Luckman, lead researcher in UK-based research team Project MIDAS, said: “The rift tip appears to have turned significantly towards the ice front, indicating that the time of calving (breaking away) is probably very close. There appears to be very little to prevent the iceberg from breaking away completely.” When the gargantuan formation does fully break away from the rift, “the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10% of its area,” wrote Luckman. The resulting event “will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.” Researchers are concerned the rift’s change of direction and the sheer size of the iceberg will result in problems. For instance, Poul Christoffersen of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge is concerned that the whole ice shelf will disintegrate as a result of the event. “The ice shelf can and probably will undergo a rapid collapse,” he told the press. “And this isn’t a slow process — it can happen in a day or two.” Related: Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water Researchers are also concerned that climate change is resulting in larger iceberg formations and thinner ice shelves around Antarctica. Said Christofferson, “The ice shelves that are collapsing are getting bigger and bigger.” When glaciers melt and break apart, sea levels rise – which results in increased flooding and natural disasters . Christofferson added, “We need to make sure that we curtail our emissions of carbon dioxide so that we don’t destabilize the big ice shelves. If we go on with business as usual, we are playing with potential changes in sea levels that will affect millions and millions of people.” Via CNN Images via Wikimedia Commons , Wikipedia

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Fractured Antarctic ice sheet will create the largest iceberg ever recorded

70-mile crack in Antarctic ice shelf could create Delaware-sized iceberg

December 7, 2016 by  
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A deep, 70-mile long crack in the Antarctic ice shelf could lead to major problems as it grows. The rift threatens the Larsen C ice shelf, the continent’s fourth largest, which has been under close observation since its neighbor, Larsen B, collapsed due to a similar crack in 2002. The growing rift, photographed by NASA’s IceBridge mission on November 10, will force the relocation of a British research station in the near term, and could have even more severe consequences down the road. Antarctica’s ice shelves are constantly changing, responding to even the most minuscule of temperature shifts. This 70-mile long rift in the Larsen C ice shelf could lead to its demise, though. The fracture measures more than 300 feet wide and about a third of a mile deep. NASA reports that the crack extends completely through the ice shelf but does not (yet) go all the way across it. Once the crack grows to that extent, an enormous portion of the ice shelf will calve off into the ocean, producing “an iceberg roughly the size of the state of Delaware.” That’s approximately 2,491 square miles or between nine and 12 percent of the total area of the ice shelf. Related: Antarctic ice shelf twice the size of Manhattan is about to break free The ramifications of this enormous rift are numerous. Among the most immediate concerns is the safety of British Antarctic Survey ’s Halley VI research station, which is currently situated about 4.3 miles from the crack. BAS announced today the station will be moved in order to avoid becoming cut off from the rest of the ice shelf when the crack finally cuts across the entire shelf. Although moving a research station is no small feat, the team is optimistic and even “excited by the challenge,” as Tim Stockings, BAS director of operations, said in a statement . The station has been in its current location since 2012, and Stockings insists that it will remain operational with minimal disruption during the move. NASA’s Operation IceBridge will continue to monitor the growth of the rift, as part of its larger objective to collect data on changing polar land and sea ice, in keeping with previous measurements. The mission is currently funded through 2019. Via The Guardian Images via NASA and British Antarctic Survey

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70-mile crack in Antarctic ice shelf could create Delaware-sized iceberg

Antarctica’s Mighty Pine Island Glacier has Reached an Irreversible Melting Point

January 14, 2014 by  
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An international team of scientists has concluded that Antarctica’s mighty Pine Island Glacier has likely reached a tipping point in which the melting is irreversible even if global warming is reversed. The research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change , is significant because the glacier is the single largest contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica. Already contributing to around 25 percent of the total ice loss from West Antarctica, scientists predict that Pine Island will increase global sea levels by as much as 10 millimeters over the next 20 years. Read the rest of Antarctica’s Mighty Pine Island Glacier has Reached an Irreversible Melting Point Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: antarctica , Climate Change , effects of climate change , global warming , ice melt , ice shelf , melting glaciers , nature climate change , pig , pine island glacier , Pine Island Glacier reaches irreversible melting point , retreat , sea level , West Antarctica        

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Antarctica’s Mighty Pine Island Glacier has Reached an Irreversible Melting Point

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