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Iceberg the size of DELAWARE is about to break off Antarctica - what does this mean for the world?

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Experts fear the disintegration of the entire ice shelf.

One of the largest icebergs ever recorded is about to calve off the Larsen C Ice Shelf, in Antarctica. Is global warming to blame?

The Larsen C Ice Shelf may be close to breakup.

The Larsen C Ice Shelf may be close to breakup.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
6/1/2017 (7 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Antarctica, melting, iceberg, Larsen C, shelf, danger

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- The crack on the Larsen C Ice Shelf has grown to just 8 miles from the sea, and it continues to spread each day. Experts predict the ice shelf will break within days. The calving will create an iceberg the size of Wales, or the state of Delaware. It will be one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, easily within the top ten.


The iceberg itself will break away from the shelf, and float freely for some time, probably several years before it melts into the sea. It will not contribute to sea level rise, because the ice is sea ice, and not land ice. Land ice adds to the amount of water in the ocean when it runs off.

Calving is a normal process and while global warming is regarded as a likely culprit, it is difficult to attribute any one event specifically to global warming. This is especially true when ice calves off ice shelves all the time.

However, the situation on the Larsen C Ice Shelf is serious. Experts worry that the iceberg breaking away from the shelf is so large, it's breakaway will destabilize the rest of the shelf. More icebergs will follow, and if the shelf breaks away, then the glaciers on land will also start sliding into the sea. Presently the ice shelf holds the glaciers in place on land.

The Larsen C Ice Shelf is about to calve off an iceberg the size of Delaware.

The Larsen C Ice Shelf is about to calve off an iceberg the size of Delaware.


The Larsen B Ice Shelf collapsed in just this way in 2002 after something similar happened.

If the glaciers on land melt, these will add to global sea level rise.

Icebergs are also a threat to navigation, however they are usually well monitored and tracked, and ships can easily avoid them.

The crack is very wide in places, sometimes as wide as a few football fields.

There is a disturbing fact that has scientists especially concerned. The Larsen B shelf was stable for 12,000 years before 2002. What has caused such a rapid decline of the ice shelves, if not global climate change?

For now, there are no definitive answers, but the questions are multiplying as well as the consequences for not knowing the answers.

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