It’s a problem that an iceberg over twice the size of Paris just broke off Antarctica

by Zoë Schlanger
September 28, 2017

A piece of ice two and a half times the size of Paris (or roughly four-and-a-half Manhattans) broke off from West Antarctica over the weekend. It’s not unprecedented, but it has ice scientists worrying.

On Saturday (Sept. 23), satellite-observation specialist Stef Lhermitte at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands posted an image of the rift, taken from Sentinel1, a European Space Agency satellite.

The ice snapped off from the Pine Island Glacier, making it the second major ice-loss event for that glacier in the last two years. Pine Island is one of Antarctica’s biggest glaciers—and also one of the sites where ice loss has been most dramatic in recent years. This time, the iceberg that resulted from the split is roughly 103 sq miles, or 267 sq km, in size.

When ice separates—or “calves”—from an ice shelf, it becomes an iceberg. When it comes to the future of sea level rise, it’d be much better for all of us if ice shelves stayed ice shelves.

2 Comments - what are your thoughts?

  • roboteq says:

    Sometimes having a little knowledge is not such a good thing. As stated in other posts; icebergs have been a way of the natural world since the beginning of the last Ice Age, which the Earth is still at the end of. Just because we now can witness and monitor icebergs due to satellites does not mean we are witnessing anything different in nature. Eventually, all of the polar ice will be gone and the sea levels will have risen and there will be less coastal land in the world, but much more fertile land due to the additional water unlocked from the polar ice.
    Life on Earth without polar ice has always been better off than when there is ice buildup at the poles.

  • donl says:

    These giant Icebergs have been in existence forever. First heard about them in school, back in the Sixties. Explorer’s used to set up camp on them. To me they are no big deal. To Al Gore they are a way to make money.

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