Scientists knew it was going to happen. In fact, the event too longer than they thought it would, with the last few kilometers of ice hanging on to its parent ice sheet. But a section of the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica that is about 2300 square miles in size has just broken off. This makes it one of the largest ice sheet break aways in human history.
The Larsen Ice Shelf has been breaking apart for several years now. In 1995 the Larsen A ice shelf broke away, and then in 2002, Larsen B joined it in its new voyage in the ocean. Scientists have been watching the crack in Larsen C grow for a few years now, since 2010 or so. While climate change is a possible cause for the ice break ups, there are other factors at play as well. Scientists call it a "geological" event versus a climate change event, though they are fairly certain that climate has had an impact on how quickly the crack has grown.
Scientists say it is hard to predict what the giant iceberg will do now. More than likely, it will break apart into smaller pieces, with some traveling north to warmer waters and eventually melting. Other parts might stay in the Antarctic for decades yet.
As more and more ice shelves break off and eventually melt, it will be interesting to see which science fiction becomes science fact. We live in exciting and somewhat terrifying times, indeed. Whether these events are caused by human action or purely nature, the results could be devastating for humans who live in coastal areas. I wonder what a solution to flooding coasts will be?
Melanie R. Meadors is an author of fantasy where heroes don't always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She has edited two upcoming genre anthologies, MECH: Age of Steel and HATH NO FURY, and is the science and pop culture blogger at The Once and Future Podcast. You can find her at her website, melaniermeadors.com, on Facebook, and Twitter, @melaniermeadors.