(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WEBSITE OF ‘GIZMODO’)
Back in July, satellite images showed an iceberg bigger than the state of Delaware calving and drifting away from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf. Well, it’s summertime now in Antarctica, which means scientists are finally able to view this behemoth from up close—and the pictures are just as spectacular as we imagined.
Known as iceberg A-68, the gigantic slab of ice weighs about a trillion tons and features a surface area of 2,240 square miles (5,800 square kilometers). The berg is slowly drifting away from the Larsen C ice shelf, possibly heading towards the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. As it floats away from the Antarctic Peninsula, A-68 is splintering and forming more icebergs in the process.
This past Sunday, November 12th, members of Operation Icebridge—a NASA-led initiative to produce detailed 3D maps of Antarctic and Arctic polar ice—flew a P-3 aircraft armed with a sophisticated array of measuring instruments to take a closer look.
“Perhaps you know the feeling: that moment when you see with your eyes something you have previously only seen in pictures,” wrote science writer Kathryn Hansen, who participated in the trip, in an article penned for NASA’s Earth Observatory. “Before today, I knew the Larsen C ice shelf only from the satellite images we have published since August 2016.”
Hansen said she wasn’t prepared for the enormity of the iceberg, as most bergs she’s seen were relatively small and blocky.
“A-68 is so expansive it appears if it were still part of the ice shelf,” she said. “But if you look far into the distance you can see a thin line of water between the iceberg and where the new front of the shelf begins. A small part of the flight today took us down the front of iceberg A-68, its towering edge reflecting in the dark Weddell Sea.”
In addition to taking photos, the Operational Icebridge scientists sought to measure the depth of water below iceberg, which they did using radar and a gravimeter.
Scientists now have the clearest picture yet of A-68, which will help them track and study its progress moving forward.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
(CNN) A massive iceberg weighing more than one trillion tons has broken away from western Antarctica, according to a UK-based research team.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)
McCain, Obama’s 2008 opponent who remained a vocal critic during his presidency, asked by The Guardian whether U.S. standing in the world was better under Obama. “As far as American leadership is concerned, yes,” McCain said.
He was also critical of Trump’s Twitter attacks against London Mayor Sadiq Khan following the recent terrorist attack in the city.
“They are not sure of American leadership, whether it be in Siberia or whether it be in Antarctica,” McCain said.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has released new footage of the ice crack that promises to produce a giant berg.
The 175 km-long fissure runs through the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.
If it propagates just 20km more, a block of ice a quarter the size of Wales will break away into the Weddell Sea.
Scientists gathered the new video while recovering instrumentation that had been placed on the ice shelf.
Uncertainty about the stability of the region means researchers cannot set up camp as they would normally do, and instead make short visits in a Twin Otter plane.
The most recent sortie enabled the researchers also to fly along the length of the crack, which is 400-500m wide in places, to assess its status.
No-one can say for sure when the iceberg will calve, but it could happen anytime.
At 5,000 sq km, it would be one of the biggest ever recorded.
When it splits, interest will centre on how the breakage will affect the remaining shelf structure.
The Larsen B Ice Shelf further to the north famously shattered following a similar large calving event in 2002.
The issue is important because floating ice shelves ordinarily act as a buttress to the glaciers flowing off the land behind them.
In the case of Larsen B, those glaciers subsequently sped up in the absence of the shelf. And it is the land ice – not the floating ice in a shelf – that adds to sea level rise.
If Larsen C were to go the same way it would continue a trend across the Antarctic Peninsula.
In recent decades, a dozen major ice shelves have disintegrated, significantly retreated or lost substantial volume – including Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller, Jones Channel, and Wilkins.
Dr Paul Holland from BAS commented: “Iceberg calving is a normal part of the glacier life cycle, and there is every chance that Larsen C will remain stable and this ice will regrow.
“However, it is also possible that this iceberg calving will leave Larsen C in an unstable configuration. If that happens, further iceberg calving could cause a retreat of Larsen C.
“We won’t be able to tell whether Larsen C is unstable until the iceberg has calved and we are able to understand the behaviour of the remaining ice.”
The removal of the ice would also enable scientists to study the uncovered seabed.
When Larsen B broke away, the immediate investigation chanced upon new species.
Under the Antarctic Treaty, no fishing activity would be permitted in the area for 10 years.
The big bergs that break away from Antarctica are monitored from space.
They will often drift out into the Southern Ocean where they can become a hazard to shipping.
The biggest iceberg recorded in the satellite era was an object called B-15.
Covering an area of some 11,000 sq km, it came away from the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000.
Six years later fragments of the super-berg passed by New Zealand.
In 1956, a berg of roughly 32,000 sq km – bigger than Belgium – was spotted in the Ross Sea by a US Navy icebreaker. But there were no satellites at that time to follow-up.
Many of the bergs that break away from the Weddell Sea area of Antarctica get exported into the Atlantic. A good number get caught on the shallow continental shelf around the British overseas territory of South Georgia where they gradually wither away.
The study of the Larsen C Ice Shelf is led by Swansea University through its MIDAS Project, which involves BAS.
and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos
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