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Large Antarctic Ice Shelf Is About To Break Apart

Although the rift started years ago, it is slowly and steadily entering the final phase. With the fear of the iceberg breaking down, the British research station has been shifted to a safer location on the ice shelf that ensures that there is no threat to the researchers out there.

Twice as the size of New York City, the iceberg measures over 1,500 square kilometers and is much expected to break away, possibly within months, from the Brunt Ice Shelf. This will finally occur when the two enormous cracks that have been growing over the past seven years meet.


As per a new research report submitted to the Journal, by the academics from Northumbria University, in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, in collaboration with scientists from ENVEO, a remote sensing company in Austria, The Cryosphere shows the break-off is part of the ice shelf's natural lifecycle, and that similar events may have occurred in the past. ENVEO is an Austrian-based remote sensing company.

The famous Professor, Hilmar Gudmundsson from Northumbria decodes the entire occurrence. He said that he has been carrying out research in this area for more than 15 years and since the cracks erupted for the first time in 2012, he is monitoring the growth of the cracks. As the satellite images reflects the changes of the ice shelf that is shared in the online platform, a lot of speculation has been raised about the cause of this movement and the impact the iceberg will have when it finally breakdowns.

Although climate change is a serious concern that is having a global impact, and especially in the Antarctic region, till now there have been no concrete indication from the researchers that this specific occurrence is due to the change in climatic conditions. However as a matter of fact, many of us don’t realize that the breakdown of ice shelf’s is a natural process that continues to happen time and again.

The researchers reaffirm that they have been tracking the shift of the ice shelf for many years now and their modeling and field observations indicated that this breakaway is entirely expected. This is the basis on which they finally recommended to shift the location of the Halley Research Station to a safer place in 2014. With the shift in place, the researchers have ensured that there was minimal disruption occurred at the research centre.

Resting on the top of the Weddell Sea and flows off the mainland, moving outwards from the centre of Antarctica, the Brunt Ice Shelf is a large floating area of ice that is approx. 150m to 250m thick in size, and is constituted of freshwater ice which originally fell as snow further inland.

By: Preeti Narula

Content: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190405124301.htm