Images taken by the European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite show a floating iceberg measuring about 1,270 square kilometers close to colliding with Antarctica – a near miss that could have further fragmented the already crumbling ice shelf.
Just as it was about to crash, the A-74 iceberg spun and narrowly avoided colliding with the Brunt ice shelf, according to Space.com. Look:
According to ESA scientists, if it had crashed, the A-74 could have broken another 1055 square kilometers of platform, leaving Antarctica in an even worse situation than it already is, thanks to worsening climate change.
Iceberg A-74 was part of the Brunt platform
In fact, the A-74 broke off the Brunt ice shelf in February and is hovering in the area in large part thanks to ocean currents that held it in place, according to an ESA press release.
According to the agency, although it escaped the crash with the A-74, the ice shelf is still in danger. “The nose-shaped piece of the ice shelf, which is even larger than the A-74, remains connected, but barely,” said ESA researcher Mark Drinkwater. “If the iceberg had collided more violently with this piece, it could have accelerated the fracture of the remaining ice bridge, causing it to come loose. We will continue to routinely monitor the situation using Sentinel-1 satellite imagery.”
The ice shelf was first declared unsafe in 2017, when researchers stationed there moved inland to prevent the growth of cracks and chasms in the ice.
Unfortunately, according to ESA, even without this potential accident, the progress of climate change will likely continue to damage Brunt, leading to more massive disruptions in the future.
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