A monumental chunk of Antartic ice that has been slowly separating for years has finally broken free. The iceberg, which is estimated to weigh a trillion tons, is roughly the size of Delaware, according to researchers. Some scientists are worried about what might happen if more pieces of the glacier break off and begin to melt.
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British scientists have been anticipating the iceberg’s separation for months now as they observed a process known as calving. Calving is simply when an abnormally large chunk of ice breaks off from a glacier, according to the Guardian.
The record-breaking iceberg isn’t expected to raise the sea level if it melts, but if the glacier that the iceberg broke off from were to split into two pieces and separate into the Atlantic Ocean, it is estimated by researchers that sea level could rise four inches.
Professor Adrian Luckman explained that since this big of an iceberg has never been recorded in history, it’s hard to estimate what might become of it. “The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict. It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments,” he said.
According to Andrew Fleming, a remote sensing analyst: “This story has just got even more interesting. Our glaciologists will now be watching closely to see whether the remaining Larsen C Ice Shelf becomes less stable than before the iceberg broke free, and our biologists will be keen to understand how new habitats formed by the loss of the ice are colonised.”
For scientists, the mystery of what is happening in the Antartic raises more questions than answers. The narrative of global warming is starting to be a plausible hypothesis, according to researchers at the University of Swansea.
“Still, there are definitely mechanisms by which this rift could be linked to climate change, most notably through warmer ocean waters eating away at the base of the shelf,” the University said in a statement.
Those opposed to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord have used this monumental event as ammo against his decision. If humans are to blame for these startling shifts in our environment, things will only get worse.