Wednesday, July 12, 2017
A 5,800 Sq. Km. Iceberg - Updated
Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf just got a trillion tonnes smaller. That's the approximate weight of the massive iceberg that has now calved. Then again it's only about half as big as B-15 that split from the Ross ice shelf in 2000.
The big concern is that, as these big icebergs calve off into the sea, they trigger a steady acceleration of the movement of the remaining ice behind them.
"Maps Will Be Redrawn."
Professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University—the lead investigator of Project Midas—said that he and his team 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 remaining shelf will be at its smallest ever known size," Luckman added. "This is a big change. Maps will need to be redrawn."
While scientists acknowledged that it is unclear whether this particular event was caused by a warming climate, they argued that it could be "a sign of changes to come."
"Certainly the changes that we see on ice shelves, such as thinning because of warmer ocean waters, are the sort [of changes] that are going to make it easier for these events to happen," Twila Moon of the U.S. National Ice and Snow Data Center said in an interview with the Guardian.
Brenda Ekwurzel, director of climate science and senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, echoed Moon's argument, noting in a statement: "This is likely a harbinger of the pace and size of future ice shelf breaks in the Antarctic Peninsula."
"It's concerning that the ocean and air temperatures around the Larsen C Ice Shelf are so warm," Ekwurzel concluded. "Ocean warming could affect other ice shelves in Antarctica that are holding back massive ice sheets. Scientists, aware of these processes, are likely to adjust sea level rise calculations, reflecting higher levels arriving sooner than now projected."
Anticipating the break-off, climate activists have in recent days insisted that the event should be tied to the activities of fossil fuel companies. As Common Dreams reported, 350.org has called on the U.S. National Ice Center to "name the Larsen C iceberg #ExxonKnew."
"With one of the world's biggest ice shelves at a breaking point, this destruction should bear the name of its greatest perpetrator: Exxon," Aaron Packard, 350.org's climate impact coordinator, said in a statement.