Iceberg the Size of NYC Breaks Off Ice Shelf

Whether you believe that climate change is a natural event or a human-made phenomenon doesn’t matter because temperatures are warming. That evidence was made even more apparent in February 2021 when an iceberg the size of New York City broke off of Antarctica’s ice shelf.

The Brunt Ice Shelf sees some seasonal changes each year, but it has never lost a 490-square-mile chunk of itself in the past.

Although the size of the break is shocking, scientists and glaciologists have expected this calving event for about a decade. Several chasms had formed along the ice, which meant it was only a matter of time until something happened.

What Happens Next with the Giant Iceberg?

The iceberg’s calving impact will remain unknown for the next few months. Scientists say that the new massive chunk could stay close to its ice shelf, essentially maintaining the structure while being casually separate from it.

It could also start floating away instead of running aground, impacting the ocean’s health in several ways.

The Brunt Ice Shelf is the home of the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley Research Station. Authorities moved the facility further inland in 2016 to avoid the different chams that were forming.

Researchers continue to keep a close eye on the issue to assess its potential impact on the rest of the ice shelf.

Facts About Global Warming to Consider

With the Industrial Revolution events that helped us to create modern society, we started generating more carbon dioxide than at any other point in history. Some researchers estimate that we have more CO2 in the atmosphere than at any other point in the last 800,000 years.

The United States produces 25% of this pollution while comprising only 4% of the world’s population.

Since the late 19th century, global sea levels have risen by at least eight inches. Continued heat waves may cause additional concerns, create stronger storms, and trigger more heat-related illnesses.

It is up to us to do something. Although an iceberg the size of NYC is a notable event, it doesn’t need to be the end of the story.

What Do We Know About the New COVID-19 Strains?

All viruses mutate. Scientists expected that the new coronavirus would change and adapt to the environment as it got opportunities to explore.

The problem with viral mutations is that the process can be unpredictable. If something happens that makes COVID-19 more transmissible or deadly, it could impact how we can manage the disease.

It also changes how the developed vaccines work against it, although the mRNA sequences are still relatively the same

Three Variants Have Scientists Sounding Alarms

We know of three coronavirus evolutions that have changed the way we respond to COVID-19. The first one happened in May 2020, which is the D614G variant. This change made the coronavirus more transmissible to others, although the death rates remained relatively constant.

The second variant is called B.1.1.7, commonly referred to as the “UK variant” in the press. Research suggests that this evolution not only makes the virus more contagious, but it could also be deadlier. Vaccine producers have enough concerns about it that they’re proposing a third booster might be necessary to provide enough protection.

A third variant is called B.1.351, which is often called the “South African variant.” It is more contagious, but it might have the same fatality rate among those it infects.

Additional variants in Ohio and Los Angeles have also been identified, with research exploring ways to treat these options.

What Will the Vaccines Do to the Variants?

The vaccine producers are not overly concerned about the different mutations they see in the coronavirus. Since they can quickly change the mRNA sequences that trigger an immune response in the body, it won’t take nearly as long to develop counter-agents against each new evolution.

What you might eventually see in a COVID-19 vaccination is a series of mRNA sequences for each variant that gets delivered all at once. For now, you’ll need to keep wearing a mask, practice social distancing, and take care of yourself to prevent these variants from spreading.