satellite imagery reveals that the iceberg, dubbed A68, is already
shifting shape along with the remaining Larsen C ice shelf itself.
iceberg has traveled about 1.5 miles from the ice shelf it was
formerly attached to. A piece of ice
the size of Delawaremoving
across the choppy waters of the Weddell Sea was bound to experience
an almost unbearable amount of stress. And on Tuesday, the European
Space Agency showed
the iceberg has begun to crack up.
images from ESA and the European
Union’s Copernicus Program show
that the massive iceberg is splintering and a constellation of
smaller icebergs are surrounding it. The vagaries of ocean currents
and buoyancy of ice will dictate how long thepack
of ‘bergs travels
together. It’s possible the smaller chunks could be the first drift
north toward warmer waters in the South Atlantic where they would
meet their likely demise.
remains of Larsen C is also reacting to the powerful forces of ice
and water. The floating ice shelf is the smallest it has been in
recorded history, and it’s searching for a new equilibrium.
with Project MIDAS who doggedly documented the rift published new
information on the remaining ice shelf on Wednesday. In it, they note
that there are a number of potential follow-up icebergs clinging to
the remaining ice shelf. Those icebergs will be nowhere near the size
of A68, but losing them could still have grave consequences for the
new rift appears to be extending northwards and may result in further
ice shelf area loss,” the scientists wrote
on their blog.
“Although this new rift will probably soon turn towards the shelf
edge, there may be a risk that it will continue on to Bawden ice
rise, a crucial point of stabilization for Larsen C Ice Shelf.”
are monitoring new rifts that formed on the Larsen C ice shelf in
the wake a major calving event last week.
rise is where the ice shelf climbs over an island. The Bawden ice
rise along with the Gipps ice rise, a rise on the southern end of
where A68 used to be attached, are both crucial points that help
anchor the ice shelf.
will be monitoring changes to those rises as well as across the ice
shelf to unravel what the future holds. While most scientists have
said the rift that led to iceberg A68 is due to natural causes, the
fate of the remaining Larsen C ice shelf — and other ice shelves
that ring Antarctica — is intertwined with climate change. Rising
temperatures could melt them and send land ice tumbling into the sea
faster, raising sea levels around the world.
are lying at sea level, in the warmest part of the continent, they
are sitting on salty water that melts them from below,” Eric
an ice researcher at the University of California, Irvine, said in an
email earlier this month. “Warm water is the main driver (of melt)
now. If warmer air is sufficient to melt the surface, then the ice
shelf will break up and sea level rise from Antarctica will