Iceberg 30 Times the Size of Manhattan Could Soon Break Off an Antarctic Ice Shelf

NASA has warned that a gigantic iceberg, estimated to be around thirty times the size of Manhattan could soon break free from an Antarctic Ice Shelf.

Scientists are now monitoring a series of cracks that have appeared on Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf as experts warn we should prepare for it to crack off an iceberg estimated to be around 30 times the size of Manhattan.

The discovery was made after scientists analyzed satellite images taken in January of 2019.

NASA reports that the crack in the ice shelf had remained unchanged for more than 35 years before recently starting to crack at an alarming rate of 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) per year.

An image of the Antarctic Brunt Ice Shelf from January 30, 1986. Image Credit: NASA.
An image of the Antarctic Brunt Ice Shelf from January 30, 1986. Image Credit: NASA.
An image of the Antarctic Brunt Ice Shelf from January 23, 2019. Image Credit: NASA.
An image of the Antarctic Brunt Ice Shelf from January 23, 2019. Image Credit: NASA.

“The near-term future of Brunt Ice Shelf likely depends on where the existing rifts merge relative to the McDonald Ice Rumples,” said Joe MacGregor, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“If they merge upstream (south) of the McDonald Ice Rumples, then it’s possible that the ice shelf will be destabilized.”

The cracks are apparent by comparing these images acquired with Landsat satellites. The Thematic Mapper (TM) on Landsat 5 obtained the first image (left) on January 30, 1986. The second image (right), from the Operational Land Imager(OLI) on Landsat 8, shows the same area on January 23, 2019.

NASA experts say that while calving is a normal part in the life-cycle of ice shelves, the recent changes are unfamiliar in this area.

Via
Earth Observatory NASA
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