The British Antarctic Survey has released some video of the iceberg that spans 6,000 square kilometers which was shot from a plane that flew along its edge. The science team will depart from the Falkland Islands aboard the James Clark Ross research vessel. Temperatures average around 15°F (-9°C), and the water is filled with huge chunks of ice. However, this could provide some major breakthroughs in understanding the continent and climate change itself.
The scientists will travel by ship to collect animal and plant samples from the newly exposed seabed, which covers an area of around 2,200 square miles.
Iceberg A-68, as it's called, calved from Antarctica's Larsen C Ice Shelf on 12 July 2017. It is an urgent mission. An worldwide team of scientists is about to embark on a mission to explore the newly exposed marine ecosystem underneath - one that's been hidden for over 100,000 years. Satellite monitoring is critical for the ship to navigate through the ice-infested waters to reach this remote location.
This mission marks the first time that scientists will explore an area protected by an global agreement made in 2016 by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
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"This is a unique opportunity to study marine life as it responds to a dramatic environmental change", admitted Katrin Linse a marine biologist at the British Antarctica Survey and the leader of the UK's expedition team.
"It's important we get there quickly before the undersea environment changes as sunlight enters the water and new species begin to colonize", she explained, adding that the mission was "very exciting".
Linse and colleagues will collect microbes, seafloor animals, plankton, as well as sediments and water samples to study the area once hidden under the ice shelf.
An Antarctic ice shelf's retreat will give scientists their best look ever at the wildlife uncovered by the event.
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Precious little is known about sea life on the Antarctic floor as well as below ice sheets, so the new studies about to get underway could provide researchers with discoveries of entirely new - and likely rather unusual looking - cold, dark water species. The agreement came following a European Union proposal to CCAMLR, led by British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists.
Professor David Vaughan, science director at BAS, said, "The calving of A68 offers a new and unprecedented opportunity to establish an interdisciplinary scientific research programme in this climate-sensitive region".
Perhaps before we start trying too hard to spot alien life forms on foreign worlds, we ought to spend a little more time considering the species of life on our own planet that are in need of conservation.
The team needs a lot of perseverance and courage to get where it needs to be because the Larsen C glacier, from which the iceberg ruptured in 2017 is situated in the Antarctic Peninsula which is an area with lots of sea ice.
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The shelf is divided into 4 sectors determined by four letters A, B, C and D. Since the mid-90s Larsen B has been collapsing into the sea and revealing a thriving chemotropic ecosystem half a mile (800 meters) below the sea.