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Huge Antarctic iceberg about to break off and slide into the sea

Huge Antarctic iceberg about to break off and slide into the sea

If and when the section of Larsen C breaks away, it'll remove between 9 and 12 percent of the ice shelf area and leave the sheet at "it's most retreated position ever", Luckman and his team said a year ago.

Satellite images and other data from December 2016 revealed an expanding fracture in the ice shelf which indicates an iceberg with a region of up to 2,000 square miles is going to calve soon.

When it breaks off, or calves, the iceberg will be one of the ten largest ever recorded, BBC News reported.

In 2002 the collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf saw an area of 1,235 square miles of ice break apart forming thousands of icebergs in just over a month.

Experts at the University of Swansea are predicting that it will break away at any moment, Professor Adrian Luckman, told BBC News: "If it doesn't go in the next few months, I'll be amazed". The probable event follows the 1995 collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf, and the 2002 break-up of the Larsen B shelf.

However, while he said there was no evidence to "directly" link the Larsen C fissure with climate change, he conceded that "up until the late 1990s the Antarctic Peninsula was one of the fastest warming places on earth". Researchers have estimated that the loss of all the ice that the Larsen C ice shelf now holds back would increase global sea levels by 10 centremetres.

A massive ice block almost 100 times the area of Manhattan is poised to break off Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf, scientists reported Friday.

Larsen C ice shelf is losing its top layer as a result of warmer air temperatures, and its bottom layer because of warmer ocean currents and circulation. Martin O'Leary, another researcher from Swansea University, told the Guardian that "the disintegration of a major shelf could accelerate the melting of glacial ice linked to warming oceans".

In a stable system, the front of the ice shelf eventually moves forward until the whole system is once again in balance.

Whether or not the calving event was caused by climate change, the dispersal and disruption of the ice shelf may have climate ramifications.

Ice shelves are the floating parts of glaciers in Antartica. "I think we're probably more anxious that the next iceberg could cause the next iceberg to collapse rather than this time around", he added.

The real danger is from inland glaciers, held in place by the floating, cliff-like ice shelves that straddle land and sea. However, the coastal icebergs buttress the land-based ice and in their absence much more of that ice will flow into the sea. That will help contribute towards rising sea levels and could have catastrophic effects across the world.

However, once that iceberg breaks off, land ice that had been blocked by the berg would plop into the sea.


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