Giant iceberg the size of P.E.I. breaks off Antarctica
Glacial mass from Larsen C weighs 1 trillion tonnes and measures 5,800 square km
Thomson Reuters Posted: Jul 12, 2017 7:41 AM ETLast Updated: Jul 12, 2017 10:39 AM ET, http://www.cbc.ca/news/technol...antarctica-1.4200787
One of the biggest icebergs on record has broken away from Antarctica, scientists said on Wednesday, creating an extra hazard for ships around the continent as it breaks up.
The one trillion tonne iceberg, measuring 5,800 square km, calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica sometime between July 10 and 12, said scientists at the University of Swansea and the British Antarctic Survey.
Before the iceberg broke off, the rift across the Larsen C Ice Shelf had grown longer and deeper. (NASA/Reuters)
The iceberg — some 200 square kilometres larger than P.E.I — has been close to breaking off for a few months. Throughout the Antarctic winter, scientists monitored the progress of the rift in the ice shelf using the European Space Agency satellites.
"The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict," said Adrian Luckman, professor at Swansea University and lead investigator of Project MIDAS, which has been monitoring the ice shelf for years.
"It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters," he added.
The ice will add to risks for ships now it has broken off. The peninsula is outside major trade routes but the main destination for cruise ships visiting from South America.
In 2009, more than 150 passengers and crew were evacuated after the MV Explorer sank after striking an iceberg off the Antarctic peninsula.
The iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, was already floating before it broke away so there is no immediate impact on sea levels, but the calving has left the Larsen C ice shelf reduced in area by more than 12 per cent.