Enormous iceberg breaks off from Antarctica

Kramer Phillips By Kramer Phillips | 3 years ago

A massive iceberg that scientists have been predicting would separate from the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica has finally proved them right, according to an announcement by researchers Wednesday.

The calving occurred between Monday, July 10 and Wednesday, July 12 when a 2,000-square-mile (5,800-square kilometer) chunk of the ice shelf broke away, according to a statement by the MIDAS project, a British group investigating the event.

“We have been anticipating this event for months, and have been surprised how long it took for the rift to break through the final few kilometers of ice,” said lead investigator Prof. Adrian Luckman of Swansea University. “We will continue to monitor both the impact of this calving event on the Larsen C Ice Shelf, and the fate of this huge iceberg.”

The iceberg is one of the largest ever recorded, with a volume twice that of Lake Erie.

By itself, the colossal berg will not cause a rise in sea levels, but the loss of part of the ice shelf could cause glaciers to flow faster, which could contribute to a increase in sea level, according to Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist with the National Snow and Ice Date Center in Boulder, Colorado, who spoke with NBC News.

Scambos compared Antarctica to an “Area 51 for glaciology,” saying, “[W]e get to see how warming plays out in an area of Antarctica that does not have huge consequences for us. If the same thing happened in some of the other regions, it would be a serious concern.”