A team of scientists from New York University caught a stunning sight on video when they witnessed an iceberg breaking away from a glacier. So far, the Thwaites Glacier, a part of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet that has already drained a mass of water that is roughly the size of Great Britain or the state of Florida, has accounted for approximately four percent of global sea-level rise.
The phenomenon is known as calving, the breaking off of large blocks of ice from a glacier. "By capturing how it unfolds, we can see, first-hand, its breath-taking significance".
News of rising sea levels and temperatures have become so common in headlines and reports, it is possible that the general public is becoming desensitised to it all.
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The massive new iceberg, which would stretch from lower Manhattan up to Midtown in New York City, can be instructive to scientists and policy makers who are studying the impact of human actions on global sea-level rise.
The vast piece of ice that breaks away is described as a tabular iceberg because it is wide and flat.
The video offers visual evidence of the realities of global warming and sea level rise, researchers say. The calving event, captured in stunning footage by a team of researchers on site, spurred several other tall icebergs to separate as well, with some even flipping over entirely. "The better we understand what is happening, the more precisely we can predict and plan for climate change", explains an employee at NY University, Denise Holland.
Earth's biggest glaciers are in frozen Antarctica, and their breakup would be catastrophic for sea level rise; the loss of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would release enough water to raise global sea levels by almost 10 feet (3 meters). Such events could help researchers understand how glaciers will respond to natural variability and human-induced changes.