Iceberg breaks in Antarctica not where expected

By | February 27, 2010

Iceberg breaks in Antarctica not where expected

With the dramatic crash of an iceberg against a glacier that dislodged a massive new chunk of ice, the mysterious continent of Antarctica once again did the unexpected.

A big chunk of ice, slightly smaller than Oahu, broke off from a place it wasn’t supposed to and in a way that wasn’t quite anticipated, scientists reported Friday.

The new iceberg broke off from the cooler eastern end of Antarctica, the result of tidal forces that caused a longer but thinner iceberg that stretches for 60 miles to hammer it free. The new chunk broke off a long tongue of ice that had been building for decades, but will unlikely cause future ice loss problems on the continent, scientists said.

This happened as researchers have focused attention on the western side of Antactica, a continent about 1 1/2 times larger than the United States. Concern has grown over warmer temperatures there and especially the region’s shrinking peninsula, which sticks out into the water like a broken pinky finger.

Remarkably, that peninsula, where last year one ice shelf was said to be hanging by a thread, has had an unusually cool summer. It’s hit pause on ice loss, said Ted Scambos, senior scientist with the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

In a satellite phone interview this week from the western peninsula where he’s working, Scambos predicted no major ice calving. His comments were made Thursday.

The next day Australian researchers alerted the world to the iceberg crash with the Mertz Glacier on the other side of the continent. They said it had probably occurred around Feb. 12 or 13.

“There are some crazy things going down in Antarctica,” said Mark Serreze, director of the snow and ice data center, based in Boulder, Colo. “It seems kind of weird, but weird things happen.” …

via Iceberg breaks in Antarctica not where expected – Yahoo! News.

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