On July 12, 2017, the scientific community declared that the largely predicted split of the Larsen C ice shelf has occurred in Antarctica. The break unleashed a gigantic iceberg that is the weight of a trillion tons and is more than 2,200 square miles in area.
The Washington Post reported that the iceberg is one of the biggest to break away from Antarctica. The massive sheet is close to four times greater than the estimated number ice sheets melting off of Greenland per year. Scientists stated that it will soon be named AG8.
The iceberg is close to the size of the U.S. state of Delaware. Researchers from Project MIDAS, a research group from Wales, reported that its size is twice as big as Lake Erie of the Great Lakes. The research group is monitoring the situation closely through satellites.
MIDAS researchers stated that the fraction was detected by MODIS, which is a NASA satellite instrument.
MODIS is on the Aqua satellite. The break was confirmed by a second NASA satellite before being detected by The European Space Agency.
The Washington Post reported that the iceberg is so large, if added to the ocean, it would cause global sea levels to rise 3 mm.
The BBC reported that the massive iceberg is one-quarter the size of Wales. The U.S. satellite that observed the ice split was passing over the Larsen C Ice Shelf region.
The scientific community has been tracking an Antarctic crack for over 10 years, therefore, they were expecting the geological development.
The progression of the rift began to rapidly increase speed in 2014. The possibility of forthcoming calving became even more probable.
The BBC reported that the ultra large berg will not move far or fast in the near future. However, it will still need to be watched closely. Additionally, if the winds and currents push it north of Antarctica it could become a threat to the shipping industry.
The Aqua satellite detected an obvious rift between the sheet of ice and the shelf. The water is warmer than the surrounding ice and air, which are both sub-zero.
The event was then confirmed by other spacecraft, including Sentinel-1, the European satellite-radar system.
British scientists stated that AG8 is one of the largest icebergs ever recorded. The massive berg weighs one-trillion tons.
There has been a worldwide interest in the rapidly expanding crack in the shelf. The 120-mile crack was brought to public attention in 2011.
The gargantuan iceberg officially broke from the Larsen C ice shelf. Water was clearly seen between the berg and the shelf.
Adrian Luckman, the lead investigator at MIDAS and a professor at Swansea University, said AG8 is one of the largest icebergs on record. The future of the berg is hard to predict. It will likely break up but pieces could move to the Southern Ocean, Weddell Sea, or even the South Atlantic.
By John A. Federico
The Washington Post: One of the biggest icebergs in recorded history just broke loose from Antarctica
The BBC: Giant iceberg splits from Antarctic
USA Today: Massive iceberg nearly the size of Delaware breaks off Antarctica
Featured Image Courtesy of Jonathan Lamb’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License