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Scientists Set To Explore Mysterious Seafloor Exposed By Antarctica's Giant Iceberg


Iceberg A-68, as it's called, calved from Antarctica's Larsen C Ice Shelf on 12 July 2017. Weighing about a trillion tonnes and featuring a surface area of 5800 square kilometres, the iceberg is about the size of Delaware, or about four times the size of London, England. For thousands of years, this chunk of ice rested above the seafloor, but it's gone now, and scientists are eager to explore the mysterious world underneath.

An international team led by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) will travel to the area aboard the RRS James Clark Ross for a three-week mission beginning on 21 February 2018. The scientists will depart from the Falkland islands and use satellite imagery to avoid the many icebergs in the region. Once at the Larsen Ice Shelf, the scientists will collect samples from the newly exposed seafloor - but time is of the essence.

"The calving of A-68 provides us with a unique opportunity [to] study marine life as it responds to a dramatic environmental change," Katrin Linse, a marine biologist with the BAS, said in a statement. "It's important we get there quickly before the undersea environment changes as sunlight enters the water and new species begin to colonize. We've put together a team with a wide range of scientific skills so that we can collect as much information as possible in a short time. It's very exciting."

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