New satellite images show trillion ton Antarctic iceberg drifting out to sea sparking concerns it could break up completely and block shipping lanes

Monday, September 18, 2017
By Paul Martin

In early July, a huge crack in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf caused the third largest ever iceberg to break free
The huge chunk of ice, dubbed iceberg A-68 by scientists, measures 5,800 square kilometres
Satellite images show it is drifting away from the ice shelf and out to sea and potentially into shipping lanes
If the berg disintegrates into pieces too small to track on satellite they could pose a significant risk to vessels

18 September 2017

New satellite images have shown that a trillion ton iceberg which broke off Antarctica has begun to drift farther out to sea.

The huge chunk of ice, dubbed A68, which is around the size of Delaware or four times the size of Greater London, made its final break back in July after a crack began to form in 2014.

It was unclear what would happen to giant mass, as icebergs can remain in place for many years, but experts fear the break could see the berg disintegrate into pieces too small to track on satellite.

If these drift into shipping lanes, they could pose a significant risk to vessels in the region.

Professor Stef Lhermitte, of Delft University in the Netherlands, shared the latest satellite images of A68 on Twitter.

He said: ‘After some initial back-and-forth movement, Larsen C’s iceberg A68 seems on drift now.’

He added that the iceberg ‘continues to drift’, and posted a graphic comparing A68’s position on Saturday to a another image taken on Wednesday.

The comparison shows a clear drift away from the Antarctic ice shelf.

Scientists have claimed that global warming did not play a role in the calving of the iceberg, according to reports in the Independent.

Dr Natalie Robinson, a marine physicist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, told the site it was ‘a “normal”, if relatively large, calving event’ and ‘very different from the collapse of its neighbouring ice shelves’.

But Professor Nancy Bertler, of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, said global warming and the hole in the ozone layer had caused the sudden break-up of ‘numerous ice shelves’ in the region ‘some of which have been shown to have existed for 10,000 years or more’.

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