The Larsen C Iceberg Is on the Brink of Breaking Off
The saga of the Larsen C crack is about reach its stunning conclusion. Scientists have watched a rift grow along one of Antarctica’s ice shelves for years. Now it’s in the final days of cutting off a piece of ice that will be one of the largest icebergs ever recorded.
It’s the latest dreary news from the icy underbelly of the planet, which has seen warm air and water reshape the landscape in profound ways.
The crack has spread 17 miles over the past six days, marking the biggest leap since January. It’s also turned toward where the ice shelf ends and is within eight miles of making a clean break. There’s not much standing in its way either.
“The rift has now fully breached the zone of soft ‘suture’ ice originating at the Cole Peninsula and there appears to be very little to prevent the iceberg from breaking away completely,” scientists monitoring the ice with Project MIDAS wrote on their blog.
Trump Pulls USA Out of Global Climate Change Pact
President Donald Trump is pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement, a worldwide accord that was developed to curb rising global temperatures and limit climate change in the coming years.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said at a news conference on June 1.
The Paris Agreement is designed to slow global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by stepping up investments in “green” technology. Nearly 200 countries agreed on the deal in December 2015 and signed it in 2016. By working together, nations around the world are trying to keep the planet’s average temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above Earth’s average temperature during preindustrial times. However, the agreement has an even more ambitious goal: “to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius [2 degrees F],” according to the United Nations.
The United States’ departure won’t cause the agreement to fall apart, but it will likely weaken it, especially if other countries follow suit. Moreover, countries that remain a part of the agreement might cooperate less with the United States in the future and, in a worst-case scenario, even impose carbon tariffs on the U.S., according to The New York Times.
Giant craters on the Arctic sea floor were formed when methane gas previously trapped in ice was released with such force it blew through bedrock, Norwegian researchers say.
A study published in the latest edition of the journal Science says that during the last ice age, a sheet of ice up to two kilometres thick lay on the floor of the Barents Sea off Norway, holding vast amounts of methane in hydrate form — an ice-like mix of gas and water.
According to the researchers, when a warming climate caused the ice sheet to dissipate around 12,000 years ago, the methane concentrated in mounds and then was “abruptly released,” causing the craters.
Methane continues to seep out into the water to this day, Andreassen said, through more than 600 “gas flares” that remain near the craters.
Methane gas in northern waters is also an issue in Canada. This August 2009 photo shows methane gas bubbles in the Mackenzie River Delta in the Northwest Territories.