A new 250-square-kilometer iceberg detached from the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. It represents four times the surface of Manhattan and more than twice that of Paris. Yet only 5% of the previous iceberg of 5800 square kilometers separated from the Larsen C platform in July. Scientists note an acceleration in the frequency of calving and fear a strong impact on the rise of the ocean level.
It is called B44 and is two and a half times the size of Paris. This new iceberg detached itself from the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. Calving (separation) occurred between September 21 and September 23, NASA said. “On September 28, the new iceberg floated in the Amundsen Sea and measured 250 square kilometers,” she said.
The Pine Island Glacier is known for the fastest melting of Antarctic glaciers. In total, it releases 45 billion tons of ice every year, a quarter of the continent’s losses. It thus contributes to the raising of the water level by 1 millimeter every 8 years.
Most importantly, it is not the size but the frequency
B44 is the third largest calving event in the area in the last four years. “But it is not the size of the icebergs that is important,” said Christopher Shman, NASA researcher, interviewed by Gizmodo, “it is the overall progressive decline of the glacier with significant losses in 2013, 2015 and 2017 “. The area has thus fallen by 40 kilometers in the last 25 years.
The most important “is the frequency”, explains, meanwhile, Ian Howat, glaciologist at the University of Ohio. Despite its importance, B44 represents only 5% of the iceberg A68 which detached itself from the Larsen C glacier in July. A mastodon of 5800 square kilometers, that is 55 times the surface of Paris, and 350 meters thick.
“This iceberg is one of the largest ever recorded and its evolution is difficult to predict,” said scientist Andrian Luckman at the Washington Post. “It can remain in one piece but it is more likely to break into fragments.”
Scientists have detected new faults in the Larsen C platform, which would allow to consider new breaks. As a reminder, the two other neighboring platforms, Larsen A and Larsen B, have disappeared recently. Climate change is the cause. The waters of the oceans are becoming warmer and eroding the glaciers. Their melting contributes to the rise of ocean levels.