A huge iceberg, 3.6 miles long and weighing over a trillion ton, has broken off of an Antarctica ice shelf. Though it can potentially endanger ships in the area, experts say that the iceberg is not expected to affect the sea level.
An iceberg weighing more than a trillion tons has separated from Antarctica, according to a British research institute. Scientists from the Midas Project have been tracking its progress for the past 12 months as it slowly began to crack until it finally broke off of the Larcen C ice shelf, Antarctica’s fourth largest ice shelf. NASA’s satellite confirmed the split on Wednesday morning.
It appears that the rift causing the split had branched multiple times, meaning that the iceberg is likely to break into smaller pieces over time. Adrian Luckman, a professor of glaciology at Swansea University and head of the Midas Project, said that there is a chance that the Larcen C ice shelf will continue to shed, or it could actually regrow. “We will have to wait years or decades to know what will happen to the remainder of Larsen C.”
Though climate change has undoubtedly played a role in Antarctica’s changing landscape, Luckman says that there is no evidence that the split of the iceberg is connected. However, an expert with the US National Ice and Snow Data Center, Twila Moon, said that “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,” she said.
Despite the dramatic changes, the disengagement is unlikely to affect the sea level. “It’s like your ice cube in your gin and tonic– it is already floating and if it melts it doesn’t change the volume of water in the glass by very much at all,” said Anna Hogg, a University of Leeds expert in satellite observations of glaciers.