Giant iceberg in Antarctica, double the size of New Delhi, is about to break away: here is what it means

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Updated: January 9, 2017 12:01:45 PM

A big part of an iceberg is expected to break off in the next few months this year from an ice sheet in Antartica, called the Larsen C, according to scientists.

iceberg, Antarctica, antarctica iceberg, giant iceberg, larson c, larson c antarctica, ice sheet, calving, cleaving, climate change, climate change news, science, science news, nasaThe 5,000-square kilometre iceberg consists just a portion of the Larsen C ice sheet, which is more than twice the size of New Delhi. The Larsen C ice sheet is around 350 meters thick and floats on the seas to the edge of West Antarctica. (Source: NASA)

A big part of an iceberg is expected to break off in the next few months this year from an ice sheet in Antartica, called the Larsen C, according to scientists. This phenomenon is called iceberg cleaving and it is a result of a rift in the ice which has been rising over decades. But, there was a sudden break in December 2016, and now only a stretch of 20 kilometres in attached which can break away soon, a BBC report said. The 5,000-square kilometre iceberg consists just a portion of the Larsen C ice sheet, which is more than twice the size of New Delhi. The Larsen C ice sheet is around 350 meters thick and floats on the seas to the edge of West Antarctica. Larsen C is a hugely important part in Antartica as prevents and protects glaciers and other ice sheets in the region from flowing away.

There is a possibility that the breaking of ice is directly related to climate change, but there is no concrete proof for it as of now. It may have happened as the air above and the water directly below the ice surface has become warmer than ever. While there is no direct proof, but the recent rise in the number of iceberg calving might be an indication towards a problem. Meanwhile, the Antarctic Peninsula is reportedly one of the fastest warming areas on earth, as over the last 50 years it has experienced a temperature rise of 2.5-degree celsius. Adrian Luckman, Swansea University professor and group leader of the rift monitoring, told BBC that it will be amazing if the iceberg does not completely break away in a few months. he added that it is very close to calving and the break is bound to happen soon.

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However, this is not a new phenomenon as giant icebergs keep breaking away, but the main issue is that it could affect whatever is left of Larsen C, the ice shelf. This, in turn, will eventually be very dangerous as reportedly it can raise the level of water all over the world by a lot and it will affect coastal areas. While the rise may or may not be enough to cause too much destruction but reportedly the world has witnessed lesser than that rise in the last 20 years. Earlier, Larsen A had collapsed in 1995 and Larsen B went down just a few years later in 2002.

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