In yet another example of global warming, it seems that Antarctica is attempting to send the world a message. Recently, an iceberg more than 5 times the size of the island of Manhattan broke off from the continent. At 115 square miles in size, this new iceberg is only slightly larger than the one that broke off last year (it was only 100 square miles in size).
The iceberg broke off of the Pine Island Glacier this time, and what has researchers concerned is the frequency at which these large break-offs, which they call “calving,” is occurring. Also, while 115 square miles sounds huge, it is by no means the largest iceberg to break off the continent in the last 40 years. Plus, evidence shows that it certainly won’t be the last.
The Pine Island Glacier is melting faster than any other area of the South Pole. Studies show that the glacier is dumping 45 billion tons of water into the ocean annually. That pace has increased substantially over the past half-century.
One of the largest icebergs to break off in recent history is known as A68. This behemoth measured over 3,600 square miles in size. Researchers think that it will be some time before we ever see a breakoff that large again, but the frequency with which the smaller pieces are breaking from Pine Island Glacier may have just as big of an impact.
The most recent occurrence of calving is the 4th in as many years, and it’s this frequency that has scientists concerned. It indicates that the continent of Antarctica is undergoing some serious climate changes. That could spell trouble for the rest of the world, as rising sea levels are already wreaking havoc in certain locations.
If something doesn’t change, we could see the entirety of Pine Island Glacier breaking off over the next 100 years. That means we could potentially see an additional 68,000 square miles of ice being introduced into the ocean—and that’s just on one continent. If we don’t take a long look and make some changes, our entire planet could be in serious trouble.