Holy Iceberg, Batman! What Do We Do Now?

July 15, 2017

And that’s exactly what Robin would have said to Batman if they were standing on the massive slab of ice that broke away from Antarctica earlier this week.

Fortunately, the dynamic duo wasn’t on that slab of ice and the breakaway was monitored afar by a group of United Kingdom-based scientists. According to lead scientist, Professor Adrian Luckman, his team had been monitoring this large slab of ice that was threatening to break away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf (or a large sheet of ice attached to Antarctica) for months.

By NASA photographs by John Sonntag [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In fact, they were actually surprised by how long it took the final parts to break away! So, how big is this large floating piece of ice, or iceberg, anyway? At approximately 2,200 square miles (or about the size of the state of Delaware and twice the size of the country of Luxembourg), it’s the fourth largest recorded breakaway and weighs about a trillion tons. That’s a lot of ice!

But given the size of Antarctica, scientists compare the Larsen C Ice Shelf breakaway to that of a fingernail breaking off of a person’s body. In other words, it’s a relatively small piece of ice compared to how big Antarctica is. Still, scientists are seeing this breakaway as Mother Nature’s warning sign of what’s to come if people don’t start taking care of the planet. After all, glaciers feed into the ice sheets and without the ice sheets, glaciers collapse and melt. When they melt, water levels rise. When water levels rise, more and more land becomes submerged underwater.

So, what do we do now? Any ideas for how can we make Mother Nature happy?


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