Scientists have demonstrated evidence of a fracture of a multi-ton iceberg from the Antarctic Pine Island glacier and shared their thoughts about what threatens the appearance of such huge ice blocks for us.
In September of this year, satellite images showed how an iceberg with an area of more than 160 square kilometers broke away from the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. This event did not become a complete surprise for the scientists, but it still made noise: the appearance of such blocks of ice in the warm waters is a sure sign of rising sea level in the near future. The scientists expected the iceberg to migrate to the oceanic waters in the south, but the one, apparently, was simply stuck – it does not let thick sea ice. As a result, the monstrous lump began to gradually disintegrate into smaller pieces.
Thanks to satellite imagery, geologists managed to recreate the picture of the breaking of a huge iceberg from the glacier
Dr. Robert Larter, a marine geophysicist working for the British Antarctic Survey, explored a huge iceberg in September, along with specialists from the Alfred Wegener Institute. He explains the current situation like this: “What we see on the Pine Island glacier is troubling. For 68 years, he was subjected to shifts in various directions, which eventually led to the breakaway of a huge iceberg. Such chipping was observed in 2001, 2007 and 2013 with a relatively stable pattern, however, due to the critical thinning of the ice cover, sooner or later this pattern should have changed – what is happening now. ”
It is also interesting that the lines along which the iceberg separated from the main part of the glacier correspond to cracks in the ice shelf, which have an increasingly stronger influence on the ice. Recall that Pakn Island – the fastest floating glacier in Antarctica, which is about a quarter of the total ice mass of the continent – is 45 billion tons of ice. Satellite images from September 26 show that the distance between the glacier and the iceberg continues to increase.
Why is it so important? Despite the fact that the ice shelf is thinning over many decades, scientists have been observing such a radical ice break since 2015. According to Dr. Larter, if this dynamics persists, then later larger and larger fragments will be broken off from the glacier, which will significantly affect the sea level rise. The consequences of this can be sad for the entire ecology of our planet: it is not just about flooding coastal areas, but also about changing environmental conditions for millions of species living in ocean waters.