An iceberg floats slowly to a resting point in the Wilhelm Archipelago off the Antarctica Peninsula. They come in all shapes and sizes, but this particular berg seemed almost architectural in form. Some others compared it to the Sydney Opera House.
Through the austral spring and summer, icebergs like this calve from larger icebergs or even glaciers, and begin their lounge journey seaward. They float around for months before melting into the sea or, if they stick around long enough, reintegrating into the ice shelf later in the season.
It’s no secret that Antartica has been losing land ice quite rapidly. What many might not realize is that Antarctica is actually gaining sea ice. Contrary to implicit logic, it is not because Antarctica is cooling. In fact, the southern ocean is warming faster than any other. Due in part to this accelerating warming and its effected increase on glacial calving, much of the land ice is turning into sea ice. That ice then inevitably melts away.
More than half (!!) of the planet’s fresh water is contained in the Antarctic ice shelf, and its rapid deterioration threatens not only the immediate colonies of wildlife that call this beautiful continent home, but also us humans around the world. There is obviously much attention focused on the issue of Arctic ice melt, and that is certainly pressing, but it’s important to consider other contributing factors to sea level rise, of which Antarctic ice melt is beginning to prove critical.
I encourage everyone to support clean energy initiatives in your local area as well as around the world, and to check out the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (link below). They’re doing some important environmental protection and advocacy work on behalf of our last great unspoiled wilderness.