Heroes

NASA shared a photo of that Delaware-sized iceberg from space. It's huge.

'Will the glaciers behind the ice shelf accelerate and have a direct contribution to sea level rise?'

NASA shared a photo of that Delaware-sized iceberg from space. It's huge.

Are we on a sinking ship, watching dreadfully as the sea rises around us, an iceberg — bobbing in the distance — the telltale sign of our demise?

No, I'm not talking about what happened to passengers of the Titanic. I'm talking about the ridiculously massive chunk of ice — roughly the size of Delaware — that broke off from an Antarctic ice sheet last week.

Just as a reminder, here's Delaware:

Image via Google Earth.


Sure, Delaware might seem pretty small when you compare it to, say, Alaska or Texas. But a chunk of ice as large as Delaware — about 2,200 square miles, or over seven times the size of New York City — is simply enormous for what's basically one of Mother Earth's ice cubes.

The iceberg is so big, you can see it from space.

Imagery acquired by NASA on July 12, 2017, really helps put its size in perspective.

This infrared image taken from space reflects a "false-color view" of the region, according to NASA; the darker the blue hue, the warmer the temperature. Image via NASA.

To better understand why we have this humungous piece of floating ice on our hands, we have to go back three years.

According to NASA, a crack that'd been slowly inching along Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf suddenly began accelerating in size and scope in 2014.

In the GIF below, you can watch that crack — highlighted in pink — go from taking baby steps forward from 2006-2014, to suddenly chugging along several miles a year, 2014-2017.

The crack eventually caused a rift deep and long enough, and that's what caused the iceberg to break off.

Dan McGrath, a glaciologist at Colorado State University, said scientists aren't exactly sure what changed in 2014 that allowed the rift to expand so rapidly, but, in all likelihood, human-created climate change didn't help.

"The Antarctic Peninsula has been one of the fastest warming places on the planet throughout the latter half of the 20th century," he said. "We haven’t made a direct connection with the warming climate. Still, there are definitely mechanisms by which this rift could be linked to climate change, most notably through warmer ocean waters eating away at the base of the shelf."

Although this iceberg has caused quite the stir, the truly telling developments will come later, experts believe.

This latest iceberg removed more than 10% of that particular ice shelf, The New York Times reported, and that could speed up the flow of glacial water into the ocean.

To put it simply, that would not be good.

"It’s significant as a sign of what is happening to Antarctica as a whole," former Vice President Al Gore explained to Stephen Colbert of what we can learn from the event. "This particular ice shelf, it’s already floating, so it won’t raise sea level, but if the others behind it also come off, that could release more land-based ice that would raise sea levels."

It's a big question NASA scientists are asking, too.

"The interesting thing is what happens next," said Kelly Brunt, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland. "Will the glaciers behind the ice shelf accelerate and have a direct contribution to sea level rise? Or is this just a normal calving event?"

Only time (and our collective desire to confront climate change) will tell.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less