A gigantic iceberg the size of almost five Manhattan Islands broke free from the floating edge of the Pine Island Glacier located in West Antarctica. The event was captured on satellite images taken on September 23rd.
The iceberg measured 103-square-miles at the time of the calving. It is now seemingly breaking into smaller pieces as it is floating out to sea. For comparison, the New York City borough Manhattan is 22.7 square miles.
Breaking news from Pine Island Glacier, which lost 267km2 of icebergs today, after the internal crack resulted in a large calving event 1/n pic.twitter.com/sLwGTyNTfC
— Stef Lhermitte (@StefLhermitte) September 23, 2017
Pine Island Glacier, the Fastest-Melting Ice Sheet, Former Home of a Gigantic Iceberg
Glaciers are masses or rivers of ice that form when snow and ice accumulate and compact on mountains or near the poles. Calving, in the case of icebergs, is when chunks of ice break off at the front end of a slowly moving glacier due to its forward motion.
This most recent calving event comes just two months after a 22-hundred square mile berg detached from Antarctica back in July. That gigantic iceberg was the largest ever recorded, nearly the size of the entire state of Delaware.
At the time of the July event, British researchers part of the Project MIDAS said: “there was no conclusive evidence tying the calving to global climate change.”
However, it is widely accepted and held in the scientific community that warming ocean temperatures are a cause of the deteriorating ice shelves.
A one to two-degrees increase in water temperatures may not sound like much, but it’s estimated that even this small rise has increased the glacier’s flow speed by 25 percent. It also caused thinning to increase from 7 to 10 feet per year to 33 feet per year between 2008 and 2014.
Two separate studies have suggested that a significant portion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has begun an irreversible retreat. If that is true, over the course of 100 years or so, sea levels will rise by 10 feet, eventually swamping entire coastal cities.
Image Source: Wikimedia