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Crack In Antarctic Shelf Ready To Produce Iceberg

First Posted: Jun 22, 2017 06:20 AM EDT
NASA's Operation IceBridge Maps Changes To Antartica's Ice Mass
Ice floats near the coast of West Antarctica viewed from a window of a NASA Operation IceBridge airplane.
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

If people think the iceberg that drowned the RMS Titanic was massive, it would have had no bearing on the piece that is about to crack away from the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica. Considered as one of the largest icebergs on record, the Bali-sized iceberg is like a "niggling tooth" in the way its hinging on the ice continent.

According to The Australian, an area of the Larsen C ice shelf the size of the Indonesian island of Bali is almost ready to crack away from Antarctica. It is now connected to the continent by only 13 km (8 miles) of ice. Andrew Fleming from the British Antarctic Survey said that the piece of ice is keeping them "all on tenterhooks." He also described it as similar to a niggling tooth of a child coming loose.

Despite what it sounds, large icebergs actually break off Antarctica naturally, which means that the break is not necessarily linked to man-made climate change. However, the ice, which is part of the Antarctic peninsula, did warm fast in recent decades.

Adrian Luckman of the University of Swansea in Wales said that there is no evidence of change on the ice shelf. Therefore, the break could be a single event that could be followed with a regrowth.

Unfortunately, the ice, which is about 5,000 square kilometers in area, could put existing ships in danger as it breaks apart and starts melting. CBC News said that while the Antarctic peninsula is outside trade routes, it is part of the main destination for cruise ships that are visiting from South America.

Icebergs have had a history of being a nuisance to ships. Titanic aside, they also cause problems to more than 150 passengers and crew in 2009 when the MV Explorer sank after striking an iceberg of the Antarctic.

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