In the news yesterday, a UK based research team reported that a massive iceberg weighing more than one trillion tons broke off from western Antarctica. It is bigger than the state of Delaware, and surprisingly (and thankfully) scientists do not believe it will impact sea levels or coastal regions. The ice shelf was already floating before it broke off and therefore there will be no water displacement or sea level rise.

Recently, students and professors at the University of Colorado, Boulder have been studying the effects of black carbon on ice and snow in ecosystems around the world. Black carbon is the byproduct of fossil fuels and wildfires and can be carried long distances via atmospheric transport. Researchers use molecular analysis and have so far proved that Greenland’s ice sheet has been effected by wildfires burning all the way in the Canadian Arctic. Wildfires are predicted to increase in the future, threatening to negatively impact other ice sheets across the globe. According to Scientific America, climate change is not obviously the cause of the break in Antarctica, and further research is needed. Perhaps the researchers at CU Boulder with their black carbon study have something to contribute to this ongoing research.

In addition, since 1976 the University of Colorado, Boulder has housed NSIDIC (The National Snow and Ice Data Center) and has served as the forefront of cryospheric data management. NSIDC archives and distributes digital and analog snow and ice data and also maintains information about snow cover, avalanches, glaciers, ice sheets, freshwater ice, sea ice, ground ice, permafrost, atmospheric ice, paleoglaciology, and ice cores. NSIDC is supported by NASA and NSIDC itself also supports the National Science Foundation and other research grants. I’m sure they will be archiving and gathering data on this most recent breakage.

Theresa Duncan is primarily a student of writing and lover of literature, currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, England. She has previously worked for Ocean Magazine and the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, and enjoys learning about the esoteric eccentricities of every town she visits. She loves books of all kinds, climbing and bouldering around Colorado, and drinking a jag of Pimms with her tutors when she’s in England. She has a BA from California Lutheran University in English and hopes to eventually pursue a Ph.D in Literature.