A glitch in the Antarctic Peninsula could give rise to a giant iceberg, which may be the largest at the time. However, it is not yet known when this separation will occur.
One of the biggest icebergs in the world is about to ‘take off’ from the Larsen C plate in Antarctica. The gigantic mass of ice is the size of Delaware, and can be detached from the Antarctic Peninsula “at any time,” according to monitoring scientists are doing.
The big question that arises is: what will happen when the iceberg comes loose and start ‘surfing freely’?
Scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) have been watching what will be the biggest iceberg ever, through the mission of Cryosat, a satellite with the mission to observe Earth. This has already provided important data on the vital characteristics of this mass of ice.
With the Cryosat information, we have been able to map the elevation of the ice above the surface of the ocean and estimate that if it becomes a real iceberg, it will be about 190 meters thick and 1,155 cubic kilometers, “said Noel Gourmelen of the University of Edinburgh, in a statement.
The failure, which could give rise to this iceberg, in Larsen C was observed two years ago and has since been growing significantly there.
In January, the fault extended by approximately 178 kilometers. Last month, the researchers announced that it would have increased 17 more kilometers, leaving it linked to the main peninsula by a section of only 12 kilometers. The failure continues to increase rapidly and it is thought that it will soon be separated from the rest of the ice shelf.
The iceberg remains attached to the icy platform, but the outer end is moving at its maximum speed. We can not yet say when it will completely separate, it may be in the next hours, days or weeks. “
These separations, known as ‘calving’, are natural and normal events. But Larsen C deserves the special attention of scientists because of its enormous size, which poses risks to the ships that navigate those maritime routes.
Anna Hong of the University of Leeds said she is not yet sure what will happen with this possible iceberg.
It may actually shatter after it comes loose. Ocean currents can drag you north to the Falkland Islands. And if so, this could pose a danger to the ships at Drake Passage, “Hong said, quoted by the BBC.
Jonathan Kingslake, a glacier specialist at Columbia University, told Newsweek that ice shelves act like a bottle of cork, keeping ice on Earth. “If an area of ice disappeared, the ice on Earth would begin to float faster.”
This is likely to happen to Larsen C, his pair, Larsen B disintegrated in 2002, after having gone through a similar phenomenon.