HOLY SHIT: a one trillion tonne iceberg has broken off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
The Larsen C Ice Shelf, between 200 and 600 metres thick, “floats on the ocean at the edge of the Antarctic Peninsula, holding back the flow of glaciers that feed into it“.
The new iceberg, literally twice the size of Luxembourg, is just gone now, off on its new adventure floating in the Weddell Sea, endangering the ‘Titanic‘.
Meanwhile the Antarctic Peninsula is forever changed, the Shelf’s area reduced by more than 12 percent by the calving of the 5800km² ice hunk.
And the fear is, that without the iceberg, Larsen C, even as it regrows, could become unstable enough to collapse altogether, just like Larsen B did in 2002, seven years after its own calving event in 1995. You know what else happened in 1995? The Larsen A shelf completely disintegrated.
Apparently it had already been floating, as a rift between it and the shelf developed over the course of this past year, before it completely broke away – kinda like when you’re treading water and spend a whole year clinging to a dead relationship or perhaps to Rose‘s door, before you/Leo finally just let go.
That at least means the change wont immediately affect sea levels.
Two NASA satellites detected and confirmed the calving, placing the event as occurring sometime between Monday and today.
Lead investigator Professor Adrian Luckman said:
“The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict. 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.“
How far north, huh? All the way to Tasmania? We just don’t know*.
*Probably not, no. That was a joke.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald / Project MIDAS / The Guardian.
Photo: 20th Century Fox