July 13, 2013
Weather Investigation: Iceberg Falls Off Pine Island Glacier
Satellites and scientists have confirmed that a large piece of the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica has broken loose this week. Angelika Humbert, a glaciologist, stated “That this is all part of a Natural Cycle process”, meaning that this occurs more often than not, even with all the hype going around the globe about Climate Change and the mess we are in and how life on earth will end soon if we don’t stop polluting the atmosphere with CO2. There is good news to this iceberg and bad news.
The good news is that it has done the same thing before; as a matter of fact, the last recorded times were in 2001, and again in 2007. So, it’s not something new, which makes it harder to tie into climate change like everyone wants to do.
The bad news about it breaking away is this; as this iceberg begins its journey away from the motherland, it will be picked up by ocean currents, which will in return begin to move this iceberg. How far the ice berg moves and how fast will determine the next impact, which is the melting of this ice berg, as it pushes further away from the pole. The air temperatures will be rising as it moves northward; along with that the ocean waters will begin to warm. The combination of these two things could determine how fast this ice berg will melt. Once it starts melting, then the problem of the sea level rise begins as all this newly melted water has to go somewhere. However, as this ice berg begins to melt, it will also cool the water around it. The same thing that happens when you put ice into a warm glass of water or a soda; the product gets cooler, as the ice melts. We will see the same impact here.
So, as this large ice berg begins to float we have to wonder how much impact this will have on the world’s sea level. For beginners, the size of the ice berg that broke off has been said to be as large as, if not larger than, the city of Chicago. That is a fairly large piece of ice moving out over the open waters.
But, do we need to worry that much about it? As of right now, no, because it just occurred and is still far enough south that its over colder waters, so the melting process is slow at this time. This could also be a good thing in that if it stays south long enough as the winter progresses, it could lead to the formation of another ice sheet as this ice berg begins to collect other smaller ice bergs. Also, the water temps will be cooled off further.
Who knows? Maybe this could be the start to another ice age, as all these ice bergs shift around the globe and continue to cool the waters. As I mentioned above, how fast its moving and how far north it gets will have a big impact on that.
But for now, we will leave it as just another large iceberg floating away in the sea.
Image Credit: Saurabh13 / Shutterstock