Climatology, Earth, Earth Sciences

One Trillion Tonne Piece Of Ice Has Broken Away From Antarctica

Larsen C Ice Shelf

A 6,000 square kilometer (2,300 miles) section of the Larsen C Ice Shelf has separated from Antarctica and is now floating away in the ocean. We last spoke about the ice shelf on June 21st, when it was anticipated to break away.

It’s the day that climate change researchers have been dreading for a long time. The iceberg ‘calved’ sometime between Monday July 10th and Wednesday July 12th, it’s since been confirmed by infrared satellite imaging. ‘Calving’is the process when an iceberg or glacier break up into different pieces.

“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,” says Professor Adrian Luckman on July 12th. “We will continue to monitor both the impact of this calving event on the Larsen C Ice Shelf, and the fate of this huge iceberg.”

One Trillion Tonne Piece Of Ice Has Broken Away From Antarctica
A map of the Larsen C ice shelf and NASA most recent infrared image overlaid. (Project MIDAS)

The problem began in the early 90’s with the break up of the Larsen A ice shelf, and the following breaking of the Larsen B shelf in 2002.

“The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict. It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.”

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Jamie Stevens
Jamie is an amateur astronomer and every day space geek.