One trillion ton iceberg breaks off from the shelf of Antarctica
A massive part of Antarctica broke off from the continental shelf earlier this week, according to British scientists who are monitoring the area. While this phenomenon is not rare, the size of the iceberg being 1 trillion tons (1.12 trillion U.S. tons) is a cause for concern among scientists and environmentalists.
Experts from the University of Swansea and the British Antarctic Survey said that the break occurred in the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica between July 10 and 12. The broken off part, likely to be named A68, is among the biggest such icebergs on record at 5,800-square-kilometer (2,240-square-mile).
“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 kilometers of ice. 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,” said Adrian Luckman of Swansea University and the lead investigator of Project MIDAS..
The team insists that this a naturally occurring event, not one caused by any human activities or climate change. In fact, it was way back in 2011 that a 120-mile long crack was first spotted in the Larsen C Ice Shelf, whose size is reduced by 12% now. The “calving” process has been going on ever since, with the crack widening eventually. Scientists believe that this will have a huge impact on the landscape of Antarctic Peninsula.
The presence of a giant and free floating iceberg is a concern for experts. While they opine that it won’t cause the sea levels to rise as the eventual melt down would take decades, they are worried about several glaciers falling off from it.
This is the third major “calving” of an ice sheet from Antarctica. First, the Larsen A sheet had broken off from the continental shelf in 1995. The Larsen B shelf broke off seven years later in 2012.