You don’t see a lot of rectangles in nature. Spiders don’t weave square webs, eggs don’t neatly stack like Lego, and no creatures do poos that look like dice. Other than goats’ pupils, which are eerily oblong, the natural world is mostly devoid of right-angled quadrilaterals. But hey! Look! What? Huh? Hey! This iceberg, as spotted by NASA, is extraordinarily rectangular.
Depending on your mindset, it looks like (a) a delicious slab of feta; (b) a pristine pile of A4 paper; or (c) a big wodge of polystyrene, but it is in fact an iceberg.
It’s a particular type, a tabular iceberg, which tend to have steep angled sides and flat tops - this one just happens to have broken off from an ice shelf at two (really pleasing) right angles. It’ll end up rounding off as the sea wears it down and the edges melt, but right now, as spotted by NASA’s Operation IceBridge programme, it’s extraordinary and (sadly) satisfying looking. But also another worrying example of what climate change is doing.
(NASA’s use of “calved” looks like a typo, doesn’t it? It feels like “carved” would make more sense. Well, just as you might expect, it turns out NASA know what they’re talking about, and calving is the process of chunks of ice breaking off from larger icebergs. Like the large iceberg - in this case Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf - is a pregnant cow and the tabular iceberg is a lovely little slimy one.)
Either that or it’s a real life version of The Thing (greatest horror tagline ever… “Man is the warmest place to hide”) and we’re all well and truly doomed.
Speaking to Live Science, NASA-affiliated University of Maryland research scientist Kelly Brunt compared the calving of tabular icebergs to growing a fingernail really long until it snaps off: the likelihood is you’d get quite a tidy-looking break. What a hideous thought though.
Of course, there might not be any icebergs left soon. Despite knowing perfectly well that we’re destroying the planet, we seem adamant that something will sort itself out at some point, that science will just magic everything better or we’ll somehow just… not… die?
As the planet gets hotter, the polar ice caps will continue to melt at an alarming rate, and not only will we all die, nifty icebergs like this that look like lovely floating slices of sheep’s cheese will be consigned to history. Which, by this point, will seem like old news that you’re tired of hearing but seriously, according to NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, Greenland lost an average of 281 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016. Antarctica meanwhile lost 119 billion tons during the same time period and the problem isn’t going anywhere soon.
Thank fully though, we do actually know how to fix climate change. We just haven’t done it yet.
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