Last Wednesday, scientists just confirmed a bit of bad news: an iceberg about 5,800 sq. kilometers in size and weighing a trillion tons has just broken off from Antarctica.
For several years, this new iceberg has been hanging by a thread. Satellite imagery showed a crack more than 120 miles long growing wider in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf. Human-induced global warming may be to blame, or it could be something normal for the icy continent. It seems that scientists do not yet have a consensus about this.
In any case, while the iceberg will not have an immediate impact on global sea levels, as it was already floating on water, the break may contribute to hastening the flow of glaciers from land to sea. Ice shelves act like buttresses, holding back glaciers from moving into the ocean.
It is also a preview of what’s to come if the world continues to heat up.
Polar regions and, in particular, West Antarctica, had been taking the brunt of global warming over the last decades. This has not been too nice for species such as the Emperor and Adelie penguins that rely on the ice for survival.
The largest iceberg ever recorded was 11,000 square kilometers and it split from its ice shelf in 2000, floating past New Zealand six years later.
Photo Credits: John Sonntag/NASA; Jason Auch – originally posted to Flickr as IMG_0760, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9703652
Video Credit: TheGuardian.com