Sunday, February 28, 2010

Another Giant Antarctic Iceberg Crash

Satellite images reveal that a giant crash earlier this month between Antarctica's Mertz glacier's giant floating tongue of ice and another iceberg has resulted in a new iceberg (the size of Luxembourg) to break off the continental shelf.

Yet another instance of "ice calving" that may be related to climate change (refer to previous blog post on January 14), the occurrence is feared by scientists to ultimately affect ocean circulation patterns.

Exactly how would that happen? Well the collision halved the size of the tongue that drains ice from the vast East Antarctic ice sheet into the Southern Ocean. The removal of this tongue of floating ice would reduce the size of that area of open water, which would slow down the rate of salinity input into the ocean, which would also slow down the rate of Antarctic bottom water formation.

Oceans act like a giant flywheel for the planet's climate by shifting heat around the globe via myriad currents above and below the surface. When such instances disrupt this process the end result could prove quite significant as it relates to our evolving climate.