What’s the News: The tsunami that deluged Japan in March was so strong that it broke off several large icebergs in Antarctica, 8,000 miles away, researchers report in a new paper [pdf]. Using satellite images, the researchers saw the tsunami causing new icebergs to split off—or calve—from an ice shelf, the first time such an event has been observed.
A giant iceberg has broken free from Antarctica, and scientists say the massive ice chunk could interfere with ocean circulation and wildlife–particularly Antarctica’s iconic residents, the emperor penguins.
The piece of ice broke free when another huge iceberg struck Antarctica’s Mertz glacier; now the two icebergs, with a combined weight of 700 million tons, are floating along the Antarctic coast. The iceberg collision and break-off is a rare event and occurs naturally every 50 to 100 years, scientists say. The new iceberg, which is 49 miles long and about 24 miles wide, holds enough fresh water to supply all of the earth’s human needs for a year [ABC News].
Scientists are keeping a close eye on the situation, as both icebergs could potentially change the salinity of the water in the area, which could alter the flow of ocean currents.