How bad is it that Antarctica's ice is melting at a rapid rate? Let’s hit you with some hard facts. According to the United Nations, 40% of the population or almost 2.4 billion people live within 60 miles of the ocean. That melting ice has to go somewhere and it is not only affecting the weather but could potentially be detrimental to coastal cities.
Recently, a large section of the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, which is home to the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley Research Station, is about to break off in the coming months, forcing the research station to be relocated to a safer area.
Is this part of the rising global temperatures or is this part of a natural cycle? Today we are going to take a quick deep dive and explore the answer.
Measuring a massive 1,500 square kilometers, making it twice the size of New York City, the Brunt Iceberg will break away from the ice shelf within the coming months. However, the process of this separation started as far back as seven years ago, beginning as two large cracks.
As for the Brunt Ice Shelf, it is a large floating area of ice approximately ranging from 150m to 250m thick, composed primarily of freshwater ice. Part of the Weddell Sea, the ice shelf comfortably sits on top of the Weddell Sea.
Natural Process or Global Warming?
According to the paper published on the Brunt Ice Shelf in the journal The Cryosphere, researchers have discovered that this massive breakaway is part of the ice shelves natural lifecycle and in fact, this is a process that has already happened a few time in the past.
Professor Hilmar Gudmundsson of Northumbria described this perfectly when he stated, “We recognize that climate change is a serious problem which is having an impact around the world and particularly in the Antarctic. However, there is no indication from our research that this particular event is related to climate change.”
Even more so past data going back to 1915 could possibly indicate that this could have occurred in the last century before we had the proper technology to measure an event like this.
Ice shelves float peacefully and any icebergs that form as a result of fractures and do not contribute to the sea level rise. Even recently the Larsen C Ice Shelf to the West of the Brunt Ice Shelf has lost a section more than 3,600 square miles due to calving.
Though global warming is a current issue that should be taken very seriously, events like this are part of the bigger picture of mother earth’s natural cycle.