Earlier this month, an iceberg the size of Delaware broke off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf and floated into the sea.
It wasn’t the first time that a chunk of the Larsen shelf had severed, and it probably wasn’t the biggest iceberg ever, but the massive break, and dramatic photos of the 120-mile-long crack that formed it, captured the public’s imagination and made headlines worldwide. The event seemed to many an awesome—and terrifying—warning of climate change.
Sean Mackay, a postdoctoral research associate at Boston University and a member of the university’s Antarctic Research Group, has travelled to the continent six times over the past nine years to collect information on ancient climate change from buried glaciers and other sources of old ice.
He speaks here about what the iceberg calving could mean for the future, and what role it might play in rising sea levels. “Sometimes,” he says, “it takes the giant events to get people’s attention.”