Antarctica just shed an iceberg the size of Delaware


"These icebergs don't usually take a straightforward course out of Antarctica they crash into the coast which can cause problems for wildlife, penguin colonies and so on".

The event, captured by satellite, happened sometime in the past few days when the giant chunk snapped off an ice shelf.

One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded, a trillion-ton behemoth more than seven times the size of New York City, has broken off of Antarctica, triggering disagreement among scientists over whether global warming is to blame. There it will float free and gradually melt.

The iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, was already floating before it broke away so there is no immediate impact on sea levels, but the calving has left the Larsen C ice shelf reduced in area by more than 12 percent. Antarctic ice shelves overall are seeing accelerated thinning, and the ice sheet is losing mass in key sectors of Antarctica. Melting glaciers are one of two reasons why Earth's seas are rising.

The new configuration of Larsen C could potentially make it less stable. Suture zones are complex and more heterogeneous than the rest of the ice shelf, containing ice with different properties and mechanical strengths, and therefore play an important role in controlling the rate at which rifts grow.

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As big as Bali, the loss of the Larsen C ice shelf will require maps to be redrawn and could ultimately cause sea levels to rise. The fishermen were engaged in bottom trawling in Sri Lankan territorial waters northwest of Delft Island, the Navy said .

"This resulted in the dramatic acceleration of the glaciers behind them, with larger volumes of ice entering the ocean and contributing to sea-level rise", said David Vaughan, glaciologist and director of science at British Antarctic Survey. "This is a hard circumstance for this ice to be comfortable in", Shuman said.

McGrath said the growth of the crack, given our current understanding, is not directly linked to climate change.

Kevin E. Trenberth, a senior climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said there have been conflicting theories surrounding the impact of climate change on the region. "So what we are seeing is a vivid demonstration of what warm water and warm air can do to an ice shelf and the land-based ice sheet that the shelf has been restraining", Oppenheimer said.

In the case of this rift, scientists were anxious about the possible loss of a pinning point that helped keep Larsen C stable.

But there are various forces - including weather - acting upon the ice that stretches into the ocean. There's a chance it could follow the example of its neighbor, Larsen B, which rapidly broke apart in 2002 after a similar rift-induced calving event in 1995, the researchers said. Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research have figured out how Antarctic icebergs drift through the Southern Ocean.