One of the largest icebergs ever recorded broke free in Antarctica, and scientists are saying another collapse might have catastrophic consequences. Veuer’s Elizabeth Keatinge has the full story.
Another iceberg broke off Antarctica over the weekend, just two months after one of the largest ever recorded calved into the ocean.
So, should we be worried? Yes and no. While iceberg formation is a natural process — thousands break off each year — the warming waters in Antarctica are cause for concern.
Here are some answers to burning questions about icebergs.
How did the iceberg that broke off last weekend compare to the massive one earlier this summer?
At 71.5 square miles, the Pine Island Glacier iceberg is about three times the size of Manhattan Island. But it’s only about 5% of the size of the massive iceberg, named A68, that calved from Larsen C Ice Shelf in July. That one was about the size of Delaware, said Adrian Luckman, a scientist with Project Midas, a British Antarctic research group.
How common are icebergs like the one that broke off this weekend?
Smaller icebergs like the Pine Island Glacier one are quite common, but it is big enough to be given its own name — B44. Between 10,000 to 15,000 icebergs are calved each year worldwide, most of them on the small side, according to Canadian Geographic.
What does this say about climate change?
It’s usually difficult to pinpoint climate change as the culprit for icebergs. However, the most recent iceberg is a part of an ongoing retreat of the glacier resulting from warmer ocean waters eroding the base of the floating ice tongue, Luckman said. Following a long period of stability, the Pine Island Glacier calved quite large chunks in 2001, 2007, 2013 and 2015.
What is an iceberg anyway?
Icebergs are large pieces of ice that float in an ocean or lake, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Icebergs come in all shapes and sizes, from ice-cube-sized chunks to ice islands the size of a small country. The term “iceberg” refers to chunks of ice larger than 16 feet across.
Aren’t icebergs also a natural, normal process?
Yes. Calving is an entirely natural process wherever ice flowing on the land meets…