Research, Technology

In Antarctica, a huge ice shelf collapsed into the water - what threatens humanity?

Most recently, we reported thatHeat waves hit Antarctica and Antarctica at the same time. This has led to record high temperatures and massive melting of glaciers. Now another bad news has arrived from Antarctica - a huge ice shelf has collapsed into the ocean. In terms of its area, it is comparable to Rome or, for example, New York. Of course, this is not the first such case. However, according to experts, the destruction of this particular glacier may be a harbinger of some dangerous events for humanity. The fact is that he was in that part of Antarctica, which had a stable cold climate. Therefore, previously such large glaciers in this region of the continent have never broken off. The disappearance of Glenzer-Konger in March 2022 came as a big surprise to scientists.

Glenzer Konger Ice Shelf breaks off from Antarctica

First glacier collapse in East Antarctica

Antarctica consists of East and West parts,which are separated from each other by the Transantarctic Mountain Range. In West Antarctica, glaciers are constantly melting, breaking off and falling into the ocean, as we have already talked about. Therefore, many may think that the breakaway of a glacier from the shelf in Antarctica is a common occurrence.

Glaciers are regularly destroyed in West Antarctica, but in East Antarctica they have been stable until recently.

But in fact, this is not entirely true.The fact is that East Antarctica is one of the coldest places on Earth. The ice here is stable, so a glacier breakaway is truly unheard of. According to the AP publication, we have witnessed the first major collapse of an ice shelf in the history of mankind in East Antarctica.

Why did the Glenzer Konger glacier collapse?

Scientists have discovered the disappearance of the glacierGlenzer Konger from 14 to 16 March. According to experts, it began to slowly decrease since the 70s of the last century. However, scientists did not expect that it would break off at one moment and disappear forever.

As mentioned above, its collapsepreceded by a heat wave that caused accelerated ice melt. Temperatures in the region have risen to abnormally high levels. At the Concordia station, which is located in the same part of the continent, a temperature of -11.8 degrees was recorded. This is the highest figure ever recorded in March. The temperature exceeded the seasonal norm by 40 degrees.

As we have already said, the reason for this anomalylies in the thermal dome. The flow of warm and humid air was blocked over the continent by an area of ​​high pressure. Part of the steam that "hung" over Antarctica even fell out as rain.

A glacier could have broken off in East Antarctica due to abnormally high temperatures in this region

As scientists suggest, most of the thermalenergy was absorbed by the water under the ice shelf. According to NASA planetary scientist Katherine Colello Walker, this heat was what caused the sudden collapse of the ice shelf.

What is the danger of the destruction of the Glenzer-Konger glacier

According to experts, as a result of the breakawayglaciers from the shelf formed several icebergs. The largest was named C-37. It has a length of 14.8 km and a width of 5.6 km. This is far from the largest iceberg formed by the Antarctic Ice Shelf. Therefore, in itself, it does not pose any serious threat to humanity.

However, the collapse of the Konger Glacier could bethe beginning of a dangerous trend. The fact is that ice shelves act as a kind of buffer that protects continental glaciers from sea warm water. In other words, they prevent them from melting. Therefore, the destruction of ice shelves can significantly accelerate the melting of all glaciers in East Antarctica. And this is already dangerous, as it will lead to a significant increase in the level of water in the ocean. Moreover, this may happen not in hundreds of years, but in the next decade.

As a result of the melting of glaciers, the water level in the ocean may rise in the next decade

Of course, the question arises whyDid a thermal dome emerge from Antarctica? Is this a natural rare phenomenon or a consequence of global warming? Scientists are currently studying this issue. However, as we have already said, global warming leads to the fact that such situations become more frequent. In addition, the temperature rises to extremely high values.

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Finally, let me remind you that glaciers are actively meltingalso in Greenland. And the fastest heating region is the Arctic. Therefore, the flooding of coastal regions can indeed become a serious problem for mankind in the foreseeable future.