Published: Fri, July 14, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Massive iceberg breaks off from Antarctica

Massive iceberg breaks off from Antarctica

This new iceberg - some 200 square kilometres larger than P.E.I - is one of the largest in recorded history to break off the continent.

According to BBC News and the Los Angeles Times, the 1.12 trillion ton iceberg (which is large enough to completely fill Lake Erie twice) was confirmed to have broken away from the ice shelf on Wednesday and is now floating freely in the Weddell Sea, north of West Antarctica.

The iceberg is considered unlikely to pose any threat to shipping.

Scientists have monitored the progression of the rift throughout the a year ago was using data from the European Space Agency Sentinel-1 satellites and thermal imagery from NASA's Landsat 8 spacecraft.

"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".

They researchers suggest the iceberg is likely to break into fragments and say that while some of the ice may stay nearby for decades, parts of it may drift north into warmer waters.

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"This is an enormous chunk of ice that's just broken off". The peninsula is outside major trade routes but the main destination for cruise ships visiting from South America. He also leads a climate change cruise to Antarctica each year for Abercrombie & Kent that delivers scientific equipment needed by researchers at U.S. Palmer Research Station. "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", Professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University and lead investigator of the project said. Courtesy ESA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

It broke loose from the Larsen C ice shelf, which scientists had been monitoring for months as they watched a crack grow more than 200 kilometers long.

"If Larsen C now starts to retreat significantly and eventually collapses, then we will see another contribution to sea level rise", he added.

Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, said the breaking off of the iceberg "is part of a long-term major loss of the ice shelves in the peninsula, progressing southbound and resulting from climate warming".

Ice shelves fringe 75 percent of the Antarctic ice sheet.

Dr Martin O'Leary, a Swansea University glaciologist and member of the Midas project team, said: "Although this is a natural event, and we're not aware of any link to human-induced climate change, this puts the ice shelf in a very vulnerable position".

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