An iceberg that broke off Antarctica is three times the size of Houston. This iceberg covers 1,500 square miles. To give some perspective, Houston is home to 2.3 million people.
Scientists point out that the iceberg, carrying the label A23a had been lodged since it broke off in 1986, but it has now begun to move. According to Reuters, it was stationary because its base had been stuck to the bottom of the Weddell Sea.
A23a will almost certainly move into the Southern Ocean. This body of water covers 7.8 million square miles. It surrounds Antarctica. The Weddell Sea is the largest of the bodies into which the Southern Ocean is broken. British Antarctic Survey glaciologist Oliver Marsh said: “An iceberg of this scale has the potential to survive for quite a long time in the Southern Ocean, even though it’s much warmer, and it could make its way farther north up toward South Africa where it can disrupt shipping.”
The cause for the formation of these large icebergs is that they break off from Antarctica, which is due to global warming. It is assumed by many that melting icebergs make ocean levels rise. However, this is not true. According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, “Icebergs and frozen seawater also melt in warm temperatures but are not significant contributors to sea level rise. This is because they are already in the water.” Sea levels rise because of the melting of land-based ice.
The news about A23a may make good headlines, but the only threat it poses is to shipping.