Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Antarctica Just Lost a 347 Billion Ton Iceberg, but This Time the Climate Crisis Is Not to Blame

Oceans
Iceberg D-28 calved from the Amery Ice Shelf last week. NASA Suomi NPP satellite

A 315 billion tonne (approximately 347 billion U.S. ton) iceberg has broken off of Antarctica's third largest ice shelf, BBC News reported Monday. It is the biggest berg to calve from the Amery Ice Shelf in more than 50 years.


The iceberg is 1,636 square kilometers (approximately 632 square miles), roughly the size of Scoltand's Isle of Skye and slightly larger than the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu. It is so large that it will have to be carefully observed because it could pose a risk to shipping. But scientists were quick to reassure the public that it was part of the ice shelf's normal calving cycle, and not a sign of the climate crisis.

"While there is much to be concerned about in Antarctica, there is no cause for alarm yet for this particular ice shelf," professor Helen Fricker from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography told BBC News.

The calving was caught on U.S. and European satellites between Sept. 24 and 25, AFP News reported.

Scientists had long been expecting a piece of the Amery Ice Shelf — known as "Loose Tooth" because of its resemblance to a child's tooth — to break away, according to BBC News. Fricker predicted in 2002 that it would calve between 2010 and 2015.

She was off, slightly, both about when and where the iceberg would detach. Instead of finally losing its tooth, the ice shelf lost a larger piece of ice slightly to the west, which scientists are calling D28.

"It is like expecting a baby tooth to come out, and instead out comes a molar," Fricker tweeted.

The Amery Ice Shelf is located in East Antarctica and tends to calve every 60 to 70 years, Fricker told The Guardian. It last released a major iceberg in 1963-64.

East Antarctica is so far less affected by the climate crisis than fast-melting West Antarctica or Greenland, AFP noted. However, a Dec. 2018 study found that glaciers covering an eighth of Antarctica's eastern coast had lost ice in the last ten years.

Fricker told Scripps that it is important to make long-term observations of normal ice shelf behavior in order to determine what is caused by global heating and what is not.

Australian Antarctic Program glaciologist Ben Galton-Fenzi explained that the calving would not increase sea level rise.

"The calving will not directly affect sea level, because the ice shelf was already floating, much like an ice cube in a glass of water," he told The Guardian.

However, he did hypothesize its loss could contribute to future ice melt.

"[W]hat will be interesting to see is how the loss of this ice will influence the ocean melting under the remaining ice shelf and the speed at which the ice flows off the continent," he said.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Authors of a new study warned Thursday that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing a level not seen in 15 million years. Dawn Ellner / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Jessica Corbett

As a United Nations agency released new climate projections showing that the world is on track in the next five years to hit or surpass a key limit of the Paris agreement, authors of a new study warned Thursday that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing a level not seen in 15 million years.

Read More Show Less
Dr. Jane Goodall, the world-renowned conservationist, desperately wants the world to pay attention to what she sees as the greatest threat to humanity's existence. Craig Barritt / Getty Images for TIME

By Jeff Berardelli

While COVID-19 and protests for racial justice command the world's collective attention, ecological destruction, species extinction and climate change continue unabated. While the world's been focused on other crises, an alarming study was released warning that species extinction is now progressing so fast that the consequences of "biological annihilation" may soon be "unimaginable."

Read More Show Less
A Starbucks employee in a mask and face shield at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on May 12, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP via Getty Images

Anyone entering a U.S. Starbucks from July 15 will have to wear a face mask, the company announced Thursday.

Read More Show Less
Supporters cheer before Trump arrives for a rally at the BOK Center on June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, OK. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

On Monday and Tuesday of the week that President Donald Trump held his first rally since March in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the county reported 76 and 96 new coronavirus cases respectively, according to POLITICO. This week, the county broke its new case record Monday with 261 cases and reported a further 206 cases on Tuesday. Now, Tulsa's top public health official thinks the rally and counterprotest "likely contributed" to the surge.

Read More Show Less
In the tropics, farmers often slash and burn forests to clear fertile land for crops, but a new method avoids that technique. Inga Foundation video

Rainforests are an important defense against climate change because they absorb carbon. But many are being destroyed on a massive scale.

Read More Show Less
A truck spreads lime on a meadow to increase the soil's fertility in Yorkshire Dales, UK. Farm Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As we look for advanced technology to replace our dependence on fossil fuels and to rid the oceans of plastic, one solution to the climate crisis might simply be found in rocks. New research found that dispersing rock dust over farmland could suck billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year, according to the first detailed large scale analysis of the technique, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Global heating imposes a harsh cost at the most critical time of all: the moment of spawning. Pxfuel

By Tim Radford

German scientists now know why so many fish are so vulnerable to ever-warming oceans. Global heating imposes a harsh cost at the most critical time of all: the moment of spawning.

Read More Show Less