The giant ice chunk that broke off recently in Antarctica is one of the huge icebergs which were already being monitored by scientists for months.
This has created hazards for the many ships across the continent. The iceberg that was measured around a massive one-trillion tons, and was 5800 sq.km, broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf during 10th to 12th July.
Iceberg Observation underway via satellite by the European Space Agency
The iceberg had been reported close to down-calving for a past few months and this is why scientists kept a check on its progress via satellite throughout the winter season.
As per the professor of Swansea University – Adrian Luckman “The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict,” Adrian was also a lead investigator of the MIDAS project and has kept an eye on the ice shelf for many years.
He further stated “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,”
The results of the Iceberg Break off
The ice is likely to increase the hazards and risks for various ships since it has down calved now. Unlike sea ice which is in thin layers, masses of ice are floating on the ice shelves. This ice is highly thick and is also attached to massive grounded sheets of ice. These ice shelves also act similar to buttresses, slowing down and holding back the movement towards the sea that actually feeds them.
“There is enough ice in Antarctica that if it all melted, or even just flowed into the ocean, sea levels [would] rise by 60 meters,” says geosciences professor at Imperial College London – Martin Siegert.
However, the iceberg break off is not likely to impact the sea level, no matter how dramatic it may look apparently.
“It’s like your ice cube in your gin and tonic – it is already floating and if it melts it doesn’t change the volume of water in the glass by very much at all,” stated Anna Hogg – Glacier satellite observation expert from the University of Leeds.
Since Antarctica has already struggled through the consequences of Larsen A collapse in 1995 and in 2002, the Larsen B collapse, all eyes and speculations are now turned towards Larsen C.
Professor of Earth Observation – Andrew Shepherd, at the University of Leeds, accepted it, saying, “Everyone loves a good iceberg, and this one is a corker, but despite keeping us waiting for so long, I’m pretty sure that Antarctica won’t be shedding a tear when it’s gone because the continent loses plenty of its ice this way each year, and so it’s really just business as usual!”
“We will have to wait years or decades to know what will happen to the remainder of Larsen C,” says Andrew.
With all the speculations, it is also believed that while there may be a continuous shedding of the iceberg at the ice shelf of Larsen C, it might grow again.