One of the biggest ever icebergs weighing one trillion tonnes , has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica and now cast adrift in the Weddell Sea, part of the Southern Ocean, the fourth largest ocean in the world.
Ice berg is a large floating mass of ice detached from an ice shelf or glacier and carried out to sea.
The iceberg is approximately 6,000 kilometres in size and about 350 metres thick. The massive ice cube, larger than the US state of Delaware, has a volume twice that of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes and 1.5 times the size of Indian state of Goa.
The ice sheet had developed cracks over the years and had been threatening to break away from the Larsen-C ice shelf for quite some time. It finally split off leaving people worried about what this likely means for the rest of the world and the future of climate change.
NASA reported the change would not lead to increased sea levels immediately, as the ice shelf was already floating in the ocean, but warned that it would now be easier for glaciers on the Antarctic continent to move towards the sea. (joe.ie)
With the Larsen C ice shelf losing more than 12 per cent of its total surface area due to calving, the fate of the berg is hard to predict. It may stay in one piece, but could also break into fragments.
Even though icebergs in Antarctica are a common occurrence , given its enormous size, the movement of latest berg will be closely watched for any potential risk to shipping traffic as it can pose threat to world trade.
Due to the prevailing circulation patterns, it could be moving towards a major shipping route in South Atlantic and South Indian Ocean. (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
What is happening?
Global warming is believed to have accelerated the natural process of calving of ice shelves. Warmer ocean water erodes the underbelly of the ice shelves, while rising air temperatures weaken them from above. (firstpost.com)
According to scientists , human actions have lifted average global air temperatures by about one degree celsius since pre-industrial levels. Antarctica is one of the world's fastest-warming regions. (firstpost.com)
The ice shelves form a safety ring holding the ice sheets over the antarctic landmass. Due to increase in global temperatures , if the safety ring starts breaching, the ice sheet would slowly but gradually move towards the ocean, which will definitely contribute to significant global sea level rise. Ice shelves like the Thwaites glacier in West Antarctica, which is one of the biggest glacier on the planet, pose the risk of triggering the collapse of a huge part of the western Antarctic ice sheet.
Since the time industrial revolution picked up in different parts of the world, global warming started playing it's part by slowly degrading the environment. Shifting of large icebergs in Antarctica is not new and has been continuing since a long time now.
Located at the northwest part of the Weddell Sea on the Antarctic Peninsula, the Larsen ice shelf saw its first rupture in January 1995 when Larsen A iceberg broke off. Seven years later, Larsen B, after being stable for more than 10,000 years, broke off in March 2002. A small part Larsen C, the largest among these, had started the breakaway process in mid-2016. During the latest incident, 12% of the Larsen C ice shelf got detached and became a huge iceberg. (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
Researchers believe that the remaining ice shelf will continue naturally to regrow but there is a risk that Larsen C may eventually follow the example of its neighbour, Larsen B, which disintegrated in 2002 following a similar rift-induced calving event in 1995. (indiablooms.com)
According to a study conducted by Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), areas of Antarctica that have no ice could increase by up to 25 per cent by the turn of the century due to climate change leading to drastic changes in the continent's biodiversity. The study also elucidates that such areas will eventually expand and unite. AAD researcher Aleks Terauds said that as per the prediction, by 2100 ice could disappear in a further 17,267 sq km in Antarctica, which represents a surge of around 25 per cent on current level. (indianexpress.com)
Earlier this year US President Donald Trump retreated from the Paris Environment Agreement to 'Make America Great Again'. With the recent events in Antartica, how does President Trump Make America great when there is a possibility that this world only seizes to exist.