NASA’s Terra satellite saw a huge crack in the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica and it is all set to give rise to an iceberg the size of Manhattan! The huge gash in the snow is 30 kilometers (or 19 miles) long and nearly 100 meters wide, and is widening every passing minute. This is expected to create an iceberg more than 900 square kilometer in area, as compared to the 785 square kilometer area of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Bronx combined, said NASA. It recently featured as NASA’s Image of the Day.
This is bad news, as it once again shows the disastrous effects of global warming. The Pine Island Glacier is a massive glacier and is also a major contributor to sea-level rise – almost one-third of the total contribution of Antarctica.
Ted Scambos, glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, Colorado, explains that it is nothing unusual when glaciers cleave to produce giant icebergs. The problem is that this is happening out of the general pattern of ice-berg formation. He fears that the trend is shifting ‘upstream’ and that signifies acceleration. The reference to ‘upstream’ is given in the context of ice-flows – rapidly flowing streams of ice which flow into the sea.
That is nothing unusual in most cases. [When the] point of rifting starts to climb upstream, generally you see some acceleration of the glacier. [That] signifies that there are changes in the ice
The effect forms a feedback cycle. The ice breaking off from the Pine Island Glacier will leave a lot of room for ice from higher upstream to flow into the sea. The faster flow of this ice will contribute to a quicker rise in sea level.