New Underwater World Exposed in Antarctica As Giant Iceberg Breaks Loose

In July this year a trillion-ton iceberg on Antarctica, double the span of Luxemburg, split away from the Larsen Ice Shelf. The whole Larsen ice shelf was around for thousands of years, a constant staple in the Antarctic. In less than a quarter-century, it has been decimated.

At the present time, scientists aren’t sure if this is a consequence of climate changes or another natural factor. However, it does raise questions about climate changes and how this could affect us long-term. Aside from those concerns, thus presenting a unique opportunity to scientists to find out how new species colonize previously ice-covered areas or whether there are species new to science waiting to be discovered.

Source: NASA/John Sonntag

One of the first researchers that grabbed this opportunity to explore the runaway iceberg is Adam Booth, a geophysicist from the University of Leeds, and his team which spent years tracking the rift. They will use this new open area to monitor the conditions of deeper ice and with help of an event known as “calving”, which may very well be reflecting the natural growth and decay cycle of an ice shelf.

The theory they seek after is that the calving and deterioration of whatever remains of the ice sheet will accelerate now. The ice sheet that severed went about as a brace, keeping the enormous ice sheet behind it stable. With that area gone, it’s reasonable the melt water will have the capacity to move through and out of the rack speedier, accelerating its calving and disintegration. However, until they can collect the data, scientists don’t know for sure.

Source: ESA

The second team that had the opportunity to research this area is lead by Katrin Linse, a marine biologist with the British Antarctic Survey. As for what researchers can hope to discover when they arrive, no one knows for sure, however, they will observe the marine life that lives underneath the ice and it’s completely conceivable the team will discover new species. The team will likewise map the topography of the ocean floor since it will demonstrate the ocean floor that was covered up under the Larsen ice shelf for no less than 120,000 years.

Source: ESA

This project presents a unique opportunity for scientists to explore the climate changes, but getting around in the Antarctic brings unpredictable challenges since the ice is weakening as more and more melt water flows down. Since water is denser than ice, it finds any crack in the ice, slips down and widens that crack. There are also a lot of dangers for the crew, subzero temperatures for both people and equipment, high winds, constant daylight, limited supplies and storms, diving in the frozen waters there, those conditions bring a great challenge for the researchers.

However, discoveries that the researchers are going to uncover in this area, will certainly bring light to how exactly these Antarctic ecosystems are going to be affected by climate change. Having the ability to forecast their changes present us the best opportunity to protect them as well as the species that reside there.



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