Remember back in July when an iceberg 4 times the size of greater London, or the size of Delaware, broke off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica? Well, on Saturday last week, an iceberg 4 times the size of Manhattan broke off the Pine Island Glacier, also in Antarctica.
The Pine Island Glacier is the fastest melting glacier in Antarctica, and it’s losing about 45 billion tons of ice per year. Scientists are worried that the glacier may be in a “runaway retreat”–in other words, unstoppable melting, and that this will contribute to sea level rise.
Meanwhile, a massive polynya (an area of open water within sea ice) is growing in the Antarctic pack ice. It’s currently about 40,000 square kilometers in area and a remarkable feature of the Antarctic ice cover. Find out more about the Maud Rise polynya on Mark Brandon’s blog.
The Norway Ice Service is consistently reporting lower than average ice cover in the Svalbard sea ice area.
As always, NASA is a great source of information about the state of our sea ice.
Our polar ice is, overall, on the decline year by year. Check out this great graphic by Kevin Pluck that shows how sea ice has diminished since 1979, when satellites able to track sea ice were first launched.
If you think the poles are far away and don’t affect you, think again. Polar ice is vital to our climate as we know it for reasons I’ll be exploring in blog posts to come.
As always, I welcome input from scientists working in this area and further sources of data. While I am passionate about sea ice, I am not a scientist, so I happily accept additional information or corrections.