Breaking news, a large portion of an ice shelf in Antarctica has broken off and collapsed into the ocean. The Larsen C ice shelf was a major extension of the West Antarctic ice sheet, and it has implications for ice in the region, as well as sea levels globally. The following message was issued to travel editors by Abercrombie & Kent USA Director of Media Relations, Pamela Lassers with instructions for taking part in a Q & A session with one of the world’s experts on climatology and Antarctica.
Scientists having observed for months an ever widening crack in the ice of Antarctica via satellite cameras and surveillance aircraft. So, news this week a 2,200-square-mile ice shelf known as the Larsen C has finally broken free and is now adrift in the Southern Ocean is not completely surprising. While some scientists have minimized the impact of this event, there are bigger ramifications. For one, the dynamics at work in these warming events is complex than what we’re seeing right now with the Larsen C. Scientists believe that if the larger Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica begins to thaw, then the near future may see 6,000-foot-high ice shelves collapsing into the sea, with consequent sea level rise as high as 10 feet. This is why the Larsen C event is getting so much media play. The Thwaites Glacier thaw is referred to as a “Doomsday event” by many experts.
Professor James (Jim) McClintock, a marine biologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has been studying the climate change in Antarctica for more than 25 years and has written a book about his experiences, Lost Antarctica. He is skilled at communicating the science in an interesting and informative way and leads a climate change cruise to Antarctica each year for Abercrombie & Kent that delivers scientific equipment needed by researchers at U.S. Palmer Research Station.
Last week Professor McClintock explained what the collapse means at a briefing:
Questions? Post them on A&K’s Facebook page and Dr. McClintock will answer them on Facebook Live Friday morning at 11:00 am Eastern.