Colossal iceberg weighing a trillion metric tons finally breaks off in the Antarctic

July 12, 2017 by  
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It finally happened. For several months scientists have had their eyes on the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica , where a massive iceberg has been dangling by a thread. Now they report the iceberg has indeed calved, and is floating in the Weddell Sea. The volume of this iceberg is twice that of Lake Erie. It’s thought to be one of the 10 biggest icebergs we’ve ever recorded. The new iceberg, which will likely be called A68, is around 2,239 square miles. It weighs over a trillion metric tons. Project Midas , which has been monitoring the Larsen C ice shelf, reported the calving happened sometime between July 10 and July 12. Scientists noted the break in NASA satellite data. Related: A colossal iceberg is breaking off Antarctica right now – and it’s big enough to fill Lake Michigan The Larsen C ice shelf has been reduced by 12 percent, meaning it’s at its lowest extent we’ve ever recorded. There isn’t evidence this event is linked to climate change , according to Project Midas leader Adrian Luckman of Swansea University . He said it is possible, but recent data shows that the ice shelf has actually been thickening. United States National Ice and Snow Data Center glacial expert Twila Moon agreed but did say climate change makes it easier for such events to occur. Project Midas team member and Swansea University glaciologist Martin O’Leary said in a statement, “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. This is the furthest back that the ice front has been in recorded history.” Scientists don’t yet know what will happen to the rest of the Larsen C ice shelf. Luckman said more icebergs might break off, or the ice shelf could regrow. But the team’s prior research indicates an ice shelf is likely less stable now that A68 is floating free. Luckman told The Guardian, “We will have to wait years or decades to know what will happen to the remainder of Larsen C.” Via The Guardian and Project Midas Images via NASA/John Sonntag and Project Midas

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Colossal iceberg weighing a trillion metric tons finally breaks off in the Antarctic

Massive chunk of Antarctic ice shelf likely to break away soon

January 6, 2017 by  
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The 70-mile-long rift in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf that had scientists fretting last year is close to breaking away. Nothing but about 12 miles of ice is keeping the iceberg from calving—an event scientists say is “inevitable.” If or when the massive chunk does float away, it will be one of the 10 largest icebergs ever recorded. Scientists of United Kingdom-based Project Midas called attention to the Larsen C rift last year, but in December the rift’s growth drastically sped up. Larsen C is around 1,148 feet thick, and is one of the most major ice shelves in the north of Antarctica. The whole shelf might break up in the future should the iceberg break off soon, which at this point seems highly likely. Project Midas project leader Adrian Luckman told the BBC, “If it doesn’t go in the next few months, I’ll be amazed…it’s so close to calving that I think it’s inevitable.” Related: 70-mile crack in Antarctic ice shelf could create Delaware-sized iceberg The iceberg would be about 5,000 square kilometers, or around 2,000 square miles, large. The probable event follows the 1995 collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf, and the 2002 break-up of the Larsen B shelf. The rift in Larsen C has been around for decades, according to scientists, and is not a climate but a geographical event. But climate change could have hastened the Larsen C rift’s downfall, although the scientists told the BBC they don’t possess direct evidence for that hunch. The iceberg itself probably won’t increase sea levels , but if the remaining ice shelf breaks up in the future, pushing glaciers into the ocean, there’s a high probability sea levels will rise. Project Midas said in an article : “When it calves, the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10 percent of its area to leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded; this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.” + Project Midas Via the BBC Images via NASA/John Sonntag and © MIDAS Project, A. Luckman, Swansea University

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Massive chunk of Antarctic ice shelf likely to break away soon

Spreading crack in Antarcticas ice shelf could cause massive collapse

August 23, 2016 by  
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A large rift is forming on the Antarctic Peninsula’s most northern ice shelf, threatening to break off an iceberg the size of Delaware. The crack is spreading quickly , meaning the collapse could take place very soon. If the huge chunk breaks off, it could destabilize the shelf and go down in history as the third largest ice calving event ever recorded. The Larsen C Ice Shelf is at risk of losing 10 to 12 percent of its mass, and soon. Scientists from Project MIDAS have been following the initial rupture since 2011 and say the crack has expanded 22 kilometers, or 14 miles, between March and August of this year. The entire Antarctic Peninsula has been warming rapidly over the years, leading to devastating consequences for wildlife and the destabilization of remaining shelves. When this particular iceberg breaks free, sea levels would not be affected, however, since the ice is already floating in the ocean. Related: Antarctic sea-ice bacteria could be contaminating seafood with a dangerous form of mercury Martin O’Leary, one of MIDAS’ researchers, told Mashable , “The ice shelf loses icebergs like this naturally every few decades, but we’re concerned that this one might extend far enough back that it breaks the ‘compressive arch’ which is holding the ice shelf in place.” The Larsen C Shelf had a large chunk of ice break free in 1988, yet it was jutting quite far into the ocean. This predicted ice calving event would eat right into the main shelf, leaving the rest of the area vulnerable to new calving events. The Larsen B Ice Shelf captivated the world when it experienced a similar event in 2002. In fact, scientists are feeling a bit of déjà vu as they observe what is happening with Larsen C. Additionally, “meltponds” forming on the surface may be quickening the demise of the shelf, according to a study published in Nature Communications . The fate of Larsen C seems to be hanging in the balance, an event to which we will all have a front row seat. Via Mashable Images via  Flickr , Twitter

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Spreading crack in Antarcticas ice shelf could cause massive collapse

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