Massive iceberg breaks off in Antarctica

Massive iceberg breaks off in Antarctica

A huge iceberg, approximately 6,000 square kilometres in size, has broken off from Antarctica and is now cast adrift in the Weddell Sea, part of the Southern Ocean, the fourth largest ocean in the world.

"The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is hard to predict", Luckman said.

Scientists say global warming has caused a thinning of such shelves, but they differ on whether the latest event can be blamed on climate change.

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.

US Satellite data on Wednesday has confirmed the iceberg has broken away, changing the shape of the Antarctic peninsula, The Guardian reports.

The worldwide teams of researchers have been tracking the 350 metre-thick Larsen C ice shelf and its impending calving since the collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf in 1995 and the sudden break-up of the Larsen B shelf in 2002. It also continuously formed new branches in the crack, with a major branch earlier in 2017 eventually leading to this split.

For those concerned about rising sea levels, the Larsen C iceberg won't directly contribute to that. The crack grew rapidly, and by the end of last week, a roughly 3-mile sliver of ice was all that connected the iceberg to the shelf.

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Dr. Martin O'Leary says the event is natural and not related to people's climate change.

"Iceberg calving is a normal part of the glacier life cycle, and there is every chance that Larsen C will remain stable and this ice will regrow", he said.

The volume of water comprising the iceberg is twice that of Lake Erie, one of North America's five Great Lakes.

The team will obviously continue to monitor the situation in Antartica.

A map of Larsen C overlaid with NASA's MODIS thermal image from today.

"The remaining shelf will be at its smallest ever known size", Adrian Luckman, a glaciologist at Swansea University working on Project MIDAS, told the New York Times (paywall). "We're going to be watching very carefully for signs that that rest of the shelf is becoming unstable". The real danger from the Larsen C break is that the floating ice shelf is holding back tons of ice on land behind it.

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