Breaking down the final 2017-2018 winter weather outlook that will be released this winter. What kind of winter are we to expect?
One of the largest icebergs ever recorded broke off from an ice shelf in Antarctica, British scientists announced Wednesday.
The 1 trillion ton iceberg, which is twice of the volume of Lake Erie, broke off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf between Monday and Wednesday, according to Project MIDAS, which has been monitoring the ice shelf. At 2,200 square miles, the chunk of floating ice is nearly the size of Delaware.
Over the past several months, an ever-lengthening and widening crack in the Larsen C ice shelf captivated the world. Now, the 120-mile crack first spotted in 2011 finally made its way back to the sea, “calving” off the massive berg.
“The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict,” said Adrian Luckman, a professor of Swansea University and the lead investigator of Project MIDAS. “It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.”
Previously, he said the iceberg breaking off “will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.” The calving reduced the size of the ice shelf by some 12%.
“We have been anticipating this event for months, and have been surprised how long it took for the rift to break through the final few kilometers of ice,”. Luckman said. “We will continue to monitor both the impact of this calving event on the Larsen C Ice Shelf, and the fate of this huge iceberg.”
Unfortunately, there are no public websites allowing a live view of the iceberg or ice shelf. The development of the rift over the last year was monitored using data from the European Space Agency Sentinel-1 satellites, a radar-imaging system capable of acquiring images regardless of cloud cover, and throughout the current winter period of polar darkness.
“It’s the Antarctic winter now, and lack of sunlight means that no optical satellite data is being collected,” Luckman said in June.
Scientists obtain radar images from orbiting European satellites using microwave energy to watch the area. But the images themselves reveal nothing, and it is only by special processing of the data that scientists can track the iceberg, Luckman said.
As for how long the iceberg will stick around, it depends on how quickly it moves to a warmer climate, and how quickly it breaks into smaller pieces.
The iceberg — or icebergs if it breaks up ever further — may remain in the region, where the ocean is quite cold, and stick around for years or even decades. Or it could move with ocean currents and winds in a northward direction, where it will be eroded more quickly.
A similar event happened 15 years ago with the dramatic break-up of part of the nearby Larsen B ice shelf.
Ice shelves are permanent floating sheets of ice connected to a landmass, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Since the ice is already floating, the newly created iceberg won’t contribute to rising sea levels.
Project MIDAS said there is no evidence to directly link the calving of the iceberg to climate change. However, it is widely accepted that warming ocean and atmospheric temperatures have been a factor in earlier disintegrations of ice shelves elsewhere on the Antarctic Peninsula, most notably Larsen A in 1995 and Larsen B in 2002.
Global warming has pushed temperatures up to 5 degrees higher in the region since the 1950s and could increase up to 7 degrees more by the end of the century, putting more stress on the ice, according to Climate Central.
Regardless of whether climate change is a factor, calving is a natural part of the cycle of ice shelves. Ice flows gradually into the shelf, the shelf expands until stresses become too much, and then icebergs are formed. Whether or not Larsen C will reform is unclear.
Scientists think there is a possibility the remaining shelf is now too fragile to grow back to its former size.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz wore a T-shirt displaying the word “nasty” during a television interview Wednesday, after President Trump repeatedly used the term to describe her.
Cruz said the shirt was meant to reference Trump’s remarks as she discussed it during an interview with Jorge Ramos on Univision’s “Al Punto.”
“What is truly nasty is that anyone would turn their back on the Puerto Rican people,” Cruz said during the interview, which was conducted in Spanish.
Trump and Cruz have been in a high-profile feud since the weekend, when Cruz criticized the administration’s response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico, and Trump responded by questioning her own leadership.
Trump also said Cruz had been put up to criticizing him by Democrats.
“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” Trump tweeted Saturday.
Trump also used the term in a Fox News interview that aired Tuesday night, saying the mayor was “very nice at the very beginning” but said “she went a little bit on the nasty side and I said I guess she’s running for office, and it turns out I’m right.”
On Tuesday during Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico, the two shook hands at the airport but the president did not call on Cruz for remarks as he met federal and local officials for televised remarks.
Cruz hasn’t let up on her criticism of the president, though she has praised White House staff for their handling of the crisis repeatedly.
Cruz had praised White House staffers in a pair of tweets after Trump’s trip to Puerto Rico Tuesday.
“They REALLY understood the disconnect between how things are supposed to happen and how they really happen,” she tweeted. “Hopefully the newly open channels of communication with WH staff will put in motion what is needed to accomplish our goal: save lives.”
Trump’s use of the word “nasty” harkens back to the 2016 campaign, when he called Democratic rival Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” during a presidential debate.
Supporters of Clinton embraced the term, with many people marching in the “women’s march” the day after the inauguration identifying themselves as “nasty.”
Cruz has been using most of her TV appearances to promote messages amid relief efforts. She wore a shirt that read “help us, we are dying” during a CNN appearance last Friday.
See the massive damage across Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria in this drone footage compilation.
Irma may become Category 4 hurricane while tracking across Atlantic; Will it affect the US?
— ⚡️ News Flash FYI ⚡️ (@NewsFlashFYI) September 1, 2017
While the Gulf Coast continues to deal with the devastating impacts of Harvey, emergency managers in the United States have another tropical threat to monitor by the name of Irma.
Far across the Atlantic, just west of the Cabo Verde Islands, Irma strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane as of Thursday afternoon. Irma became a tropical storm at midday on Wednesday.
“There is the potential for Irma to ramp up to an even more powerful hurricane in the coming days,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.
“Irma is likely to remain a major hurricane and could become a Category 4 well before it reaches the Lesser Anteilles,” Kottlowski said.
A Category 4 hurricane has sustained winds of 130-156 mph (209-251 km/h).
Subtle changes in atmospheric conditions, such as slightly drier air and a small patch of strong winds aloft, can cause significant fluctuations in strength in even the strongest of hurricanes.
Irma will take about a week to make its trek westward across the Atlantic Ocean. Meteorologists will likely be tracking this storm through the middle of September.
“All interests in the eastern Caribbean will need to monitor the progress of this evolving and dangerous hurricane,” Kottlowski said.
“Surf will begin to build on the east-facing beaches in the Leeward and Windward islands late this weekend into early next week, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
How much seas, surf and winds increase during the first part of next week will depend on the exact track of Irma.
“While the hurricane is strong, it is relatively small in size,” Sosnowski said. “Should this small size continue, severe effects from the storm may be limited to a radius 50 miles of the center, while the storm moves through the tropics.”
Beyond early next week, there is a wide range as to where Irma may go.
“It is way too soon to say with certainty where and if this system will impact the U.S.,” Kottlowski said.
During this time, plenty of atmospheric factors will come into play to determine its path.
Possibilities range from a landfall on the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean to the Carolinas and the island nation of Bermuda – and everything in between. There is also a chance the system drifts into the Gulf of Mexico.
As of early Friday morning, Irma was located about 1,725 miles (2,775 km) east of the Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 km/h).
“Steering winds will guide Irma close to the Leeward Islands and then perhaps Puerto Rico and Hispaniola around the middle of next week,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Thompson.
Conditions are favorable for tropical development throughout the central Atlantic, heightening the threat of significant strengthening as this system approaches the U.S.