Delaware-sized Antarctic iceberg drifting toward open sea

Delaware-sized Antarctic iceberg drifting toward open sea
Posted at 1:38 PM, Sep 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-21 10:32:39-04

(RNN) - An Antarctic iceberg that’s bigger than Delaware is drifting away after shearing off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf.

It’s a natural event and unrelated to human-induced climate change, said Alan Luckman, the lead researcher on the project, who is from Swansea University in the United Kingdom. But it could put the ice shelf in a vulnerable position and lead to instability, he said.

The Larsen C floats, holding back the glaciers that flow into it. If it continues to melt and the glaciers contact warm sea water, it could lead to the melting of land ice that would cause significant sea-level rise.

The immediate concern is that as the massive berg drifts deeper into the sea, it may break up into many smaller pieces, undetectable by satellites, that drift into shipping lanes, disrupting commerce and travel.

The sheer enormity of the iceberg, prosaically dubbed A48, is hard to wrap your head around.

Just how big is that iceberg? 

  • It holds enough ice to fill 463 million Olympic swimming pools.
  • It contains twice the volume of Lake Erie.
  • It’s 2,240 square miles.
  • It’s bigger than Delaware.
  • It has a thickness of between 200 and 600 meters.
  • It could cover the U.S. in 4.6 inches of ice.
  • It weighs more than a trillion tons.

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