Sunday, 19 November, 2017

Iceberg weighing at least trillion tonnes breaks off Antarctica

Yes, Sea Levels Will Rise Thanks to the New Iceberg in the Southern Ocean Massive iceberg breaks free in Antarctica
Frank Williams | 14 July, 2017, 04:09

In 2014, a crack that had been slowly growing into the ice shelf for decades suddenly started to spread northwards, creating the nascent iceberg.

With its new shape and size, Larsen C may be less stable, the MIDAS researchers warned.

Amazingly it isn't the largest recorded iceberg to break away from Antarctica, even though it is roughly six-times the size of Auckland, as one twice the size broke off the Ross Ice-shelf 17 years-ago.

But scientists will definitely be keeping an eye on what happens to the remaining 40,000 square kilometres of the Larsen C ice shelf. 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. If the glaciers held in check by Larsen C were to spill into the Antarctic Ocean, it would lift the global water mark by about 10 centimetres (four inches), previous research has shown.

The widening crack had been developing over the past year.

Professor Adrian Luckman, of Swansea University, said: "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".

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They researchers suggest the iceberg is likely to break into fragments and say that while some of the ice may stay nearby for decades, parts of it may drift north into warmer waters. The crack remained dormant for decades, stuck in a section of the ice shelf called a suture zone, an area where glaciers flowing into the ice shelf come together.

The first available images of Larsen C are airborne photographs from the 1960s and an image from a U.S. satellite captured in 1963. However, as far as we can tell, this calving event for Larsen C is part of the normal evolution of an ice sheet.

Prof Luckman added: "In the ensuing months and years, the ice shelf could either gradually regrow, or may suffer further calving events which may eventually lead to collapse - opinions in the scientific community are divided".

Moffat emphasizes that while massive and significant, the event won't contribute to sea level rise because the iceberg is breaking off from a floating ice shelf.

Ice shelves form when ice sheets on land make their way to the coast and slide into the surrounding ocean or sea.

"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.

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