Scientists had warned for a long time that the Antarctica was close to a natural catastrophe. Its Larsen C ice shelf had a massive, deep rift that threatened to divide it. This predicted phenomenon took place on Wednesday. The result is a 2,200 square miles iceberg that weighs approximately a trillion tons. This makes it one of the largest floating pieces of ice in history.
Scientists Will Monitor the Newly Formed Iceberg
The newly created iceberg has the size of Delaware and scientists intend to give it the nickname of “A68.” The European Space Agency, a NASA satellite, and Aqua MODIS have all confirmed this natural disaster. As a consequence, Antarctica’s largest ice shelf, Larsen C, lost 12% of its mass. Scientists are worried that this phenomenon might trigger a destabilizing effect.
If the iceberg is melted, it could contribute to an increased seal level of 3 millimeters for the entire planet. The lead MIDAS researcher, Adrian Luckman, is already monitoring the activity of the new colossus and running predictions on its route. According to him, there are high chances for the iceberg to split into smaller fragments. Some of them might remain in Antarctica for decades, while others will travel and melt in warmer regions.
Larsen C Ice Shelf Presents Some Worrisome Conditions
There were other such events in the past that rendered even larger icebergs such as B15 or another one from 1986. However, this time the event is concerning. That’s because the previous ones happened after Larsen C gained additional size leaving the events with no serious aftermaths. Nonetheless, the recent split left the ice shelf without 12% of its territory.
Scientists fear that around 11 shelves of the Peninsula have all lost in size. Their dimensions are the smallest since the last ice age that ended 11,700 years ago. While calving is a natural event, as the shelf is ejecting its tip to regain balance, the case of Larsen C seems different due to its decreased size. Nonetheless, scientists will keep the new berg under supervision in upcoming years and see how it responds.
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