Giant iceberg breaking off Antarctica is worrisome, but glaciers behind it are a bigger problem: Here’s why

Antarctica ice sheet breaks off: But while the breaking off of the iceberg is worrisome, experts caution that the glaciers behind it are the bigger problem. The size of the iceberg is lesser of an issue because icebergs, according to scientists, calve all the time and have minimal direct effect on sea level. 

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 13, 2017 2:24 pm
Antarctica, Antarctica Iceberg, Antarctic Iceberg, Antarctica global warming Antarctica ice sheet breaks off: A vast iceberg with twice the volume of Lake Erie has broken off from a key floating ice shelf in Antarctica, scientists said Wednesday July 12, 2017 .(AP Photo)

A nearly one trillion tonne iceberg, measuring at least 5,800 square km, broke away from Antarctica, according to scientists on Wednesday, potentially creating a hazard for movement of ships around the continent. As per scientists at the University of Swansea and the British Antarctic Survey, the iceberg, one of the biggest on record, broke off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica between July 10 and 12. The scientists enumerated the iceberg has been very close to drifting off for a few months.

But while the breaking off of the iceberg is worrisome, experts caution that the glaciers behind it are the bigger problem. The size of the iceberg is lesser of an issue because icebergs, according to scientists, calve all the time and have minimal direct effect on sea level. Also Read: Giant iceberg breaks off Antarctica

What do experts say about the Antarctica ice sheet breaking off?

Antarctica, Antarctica Iceberg, Antarctic Iceberg, Antarctica global warming, This February 2017 frame from video provided by the British Antarctic Survey shows the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica. A vast iceberg with twice the volume of Lake Erie broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf, scientists said Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The iceberg is described as weighing 1 trillion tons (1.12 trillion U.S. tons). (British Antarctic Survey via AP)

Experts opine that the large chunk of ice mass floating in Antarctica is not a new development, but the freely floating element is. A report in Bloomberg written by author Eric Roston elucidates that although ice shelves already do float on open water, the icebergs that are created as a result of it don’t affect global sea levels, which are reported to be rising at approximately 3.4 millimeters annually. The report further states that warmer water usually takes up a bigger volume than similar amount of cold water. This contributes to the expansion. Although the gigantic Antarctica ice sheet will eventually melt into water and warm over a period of time, the report says it won’t necessarily have a significant effect on overall heating of the world’s oceans, cautioning that glaciers pouring water into the oceans are of greater concern.

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Why are glaciers behind the breakaway ice sheets in Antarctica a bigger problem?

According to a report in news.com.au, scientists explain that while glaciers flow from land towards the sea, their ice are absorbed into the ice shelf. Once the ice shelf is removed, glaciers tend to flow faster, which in turn increases the speed at which ice shifts from land to sea. This, scientists say, has a much bigger impact on sea level than iceberg breaking off does.

Antarctica, Antarctica Iceberg, Antarctic Iceberg, Antarctica global warming, The image released by European Space Agency ESA shows a photo taken by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission on July 12, 2017, when a lump of ice more than twice the size of Luxembourg has broken off the Larsen-C ice shelf in Antarctica, spawning one of the largest icebergs on record and changing the outline of the Antarctic Peninsula forever. (ESA/Copernicus via AP)

What happens to the rift in the Antarctica ice sheet?

After calving, the ice sheet will give birth to a big new iceberg. But this development according to scientists might create instability in the entire Larsen C ice shelf and eventually break up entirely. This might have a potential impact that could take decades to play out.

A Reuters report quoted Swansea University professor Adrian Luckman as saying, “It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.”

Antarctica, Antarctica Iceberg, Antarctic Iceberg, Antarctica global warming, This is a Feb. 2017 image of the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica made available by the Antarctic Survey on Wednesday July 12, 2017. A vast iceberg with twice the volume of Lake Erie has broken off from a key floating ice shelf in Antarctica, scientists said Wednesday. (British Antarctic Survey via AP)

Antarctica’s ice-free areas to increase by 2100?

Meanwhile, according to a study conducted by Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), areas of Antarctica that have no ice could increase by up to 25 per cent by the turn of the century due to climate change. This, the study suggests, could lead to drastic changes in the continent’s biodiversity. The study by AAD, who are the first to delve into the effects of climate change on ice-free areas in Antarctic, elucidates that such areas will eventually expand and unite.

To this effect, AAD researcher Aleks Terauds sums it up saying: as per the prediction, by 2100 ice could disappear in a further 17,267 sq km, which represents a surge of around 25 per cent on current levels. READ FULL STORY HERE 

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  1. V
    vivek joshi
    Jul 15, 2017 at 12:21 pm
    This article would be better if it provides the information that which regions are likely to be affected, such half informations only produce fear amongst the people.
    Reply
  2. K
    Kushal Kumar
    Jul 13, 2017 at 9:36 pm
    It has been reported by news media that a massive iceberg has split in Antarctica during 10 to 12 July 2017. While scientists say that it is the biggest ever split of iceberg , they look to be presently of the opinion that no immediate danger or such like impact can be estimated. But since the split is biggest ever of the size of six thousand square kilometers , there could be some impact either on the sea water level or more splits. This development appears to be closer to this Vedic astrology writer's alerts of 16 May 2017 in article - " Is World War III round the corner ?" - published in the Summer (June) 2017 issue of The Astrologer's Notebook , a quarterly print Newsletter from North Port , Florida. While saying that sea could play a major role during about 24 June and after till September , more so during 19 August to 4 September , in present year 2017 , it was also said that natural or man made disasters could manifest during the said period through floods , landslides
    Reply
  3. I
    indian man
    Jul 13, 2017 at 8:20 pm
    Same picture found in Dawn newspaper of Pakstn. Is Indian express is a part of Dawn newspaper.?
    Reply