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A Trillion Ton Iceberg

Map of Larsen C, overlaid with NASA MODIS thermal image from July 12 2017, showing the iceberg has calved

If you have been following this blog you might know that we are talking about Larsen C. Project MIDAS reports: Larsen C calves trillion ton iceberg. What does this mean?

The iceberg weighs more than a trillion tonnes (1,000,000,000,000 metric tonnes), but it was already floating before it calved away so has no immediate impact on sea level. The calving of this iceberg leaves the Larsen C Ice Shelf reduced in area by more than 12%, and the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula changed forever.

The article also notes:

Whilst this new iceberg will not immediately raise sea levels, if the shelf loses much more of its area, it could result in glaciers that flow off the land behind speeding up their passage towards the ocean. This non-floating ice would have an eventual impact on sea levels, but only at a very modest rate.

There is now some interesting modeling of where the iceberg will go and how long it will take to melt.  There should be a good differential equations project in here. Please read the full article, which includes a nice picture of the full break in the ice. Quiz question: What melting ice will have a significant impact on sea level?

About Thomas J. Pfaff

Thomas J. Pfaff is a Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College. He created this website because he believes that sustainability, ranging from climate change to social justice, should be included in all courses whenever possible.

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