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Dawn over the Assynt mountains from Mellon Udrigle Beach
Symphony of Light by Anthony Young Via Flickr: About nine years ago when I last spent a week up around these parts we visited a beach at a oddly named place called Mellon Udrigle. It really stuck in my memory due to the pure white fine sands and views to some of the magnificent mountains of Assynt. I remember thinking at the time just how wonderful it would be to witness a summer sunrise from here. Having returned I bit the 3:30 A.M. bullet and left the cottage for the 25 minute drive. It was immediately apparent that I would not be wasting my time as the amount of colour in the sky for around an hour before sunrise as quite astonishing, the sight of the serrated ridges of the Quinag and Suilven set against the glowing sky set my heart racing and made it difficult to concentrate on the road. I manged to arrive in one piece and rushed down to the beach to witness this glorious spectacle all alone. My images from that morning don’t do it justice, whether that is down to my lack of ability of the limitations of my equipment I don’t know but hopefully you can enjoy a fragment of this glorious symphony of light.
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded – has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice, monitored by the Swansea University-led MIDAS project, finally completed its path through the ice.
The calving occurred sometime between Monday 10th July and Wednesday 12th July, when a 5,800 square km section of Larsen C finally broke away.
The final breakthrough was detected in data from NASA’s Aqua MODIS satellite instrument, which images in the thermal infrared at a resolution of 1km.
• The iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, weighs more than a trillion tonnes.
• Its volume is twice that of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes.
The iceberg weighs more than a trillion tonnes (1,000,000,000,000 metric tonnes), but it was already floating before it calved away so has no immediate impact on sea level.
The calving of this iceberg leaves the Larsen C Ice Shelf reduced in area by more than 12%, and the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula changed forever.
The development of the rift over the last year was monitored using data from the European Space Agency Sentinel-1 satellites – part of the European Copernicus Space Component.
Sentinel-1 is a radar imaging system capable of acquiring images regardless of cloud cover, and throughout the current winter period of polar darkness.
The detachment of the iceberg was first revealed in a thermal infrared image from NASA’s MODIS instrument, which is also able to acquire data in the Antarctic winter when cloud cover permits.
Although the remaining ice shelf will continue naturally to regrow, Swansea researchers have previously shown that the new configuration is potentially less stable than it was prior to the rift.
There is a risk that Larsen C may eventually follow the example of its neighbour, Larsen B, which disintegrated in 2002 following a similar rift-induced calving event in 1995.
Professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University, lead investigator of the MIDAS project, said: “We have been anticipating this event for months, and have been surprised how long it took for the rift to break through the final few kilometres of ice.
We will continue to monitor both the impact of this calving event on the Larsen C Ice Shelf, and the fate of this huge iceberg.
The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict.
It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.
The recent development in satellite systems such as Sentinel-1 and MODIS has vastly improved our ability to monitor events such as this.”
The Larsen C Ice Shelf, which has a thickness of between 200 and 600 metres, floats on the ocean at the edge of The Antarctic Peninsula, holding back the flow of glaciers that feed into it.
Researchers from the MIDAS Project have been monitoring the rift in Larsen C for many years, following the collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf in 1995 and the sudden break-up of the Larsen B shelf in 2002.
They reported rapid advances of the rift in January, May and June, which increased its length to over 200 km and left the iceberg hanging on by a thread of ice just 4.5 km (2.8 miles) wide.
The team monitored the earlier development of the rift using a technique called satellite radar interferometry (SRI) applied to ESA Sentinel-1 images.
While the rift is only visible in radar images when it is more than 50m wide, by combining pairs of images, SRI allows the impact of very small changes in ice shelf geometry to be detected, and the rift tip to be monitored precisely.
Dr Martin O'Leary, a Swansea University glaciologist and member of the MIDAS project team, said of the recent calving: “Although this is a natural event, and we’re not aware of any link to human-induced climate change, this puts the ice shelf in a very vulnerable position.
This is the furthest back that the ice front has been in recorded history. We’re going to be watching very carefully for signs that the rest of the shelf is becoming unstable.”
Professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University added: “In the ensuing months and years, the ice shelf could either gradually regrow, or may suffer further calving events which may eventually lead to collapse - opinions in the scientific community are divided.
Our models say it will be less stable, but any future collapse remains years or decades away.”
Whilst this new iceberg will not immediately raise sea levels, if the shelf loses much more of its area, it could result in glaciers that flow off the land behind speeding up their passage towards the ocean.
This non-floating ice would have an eventual impact on sea levels, but only at a very modest rate.
TOP IMAGE….This is the rift in the Larsen C -0 aerial view. Credit: John Sonntag/NASA.
LOWER IMAGE….This is a map showing detachment of iceberg, based on data from NASA’s Aqua Modis satellite. July 12, 2017. Credit: MIDAS Project, Swansea University.
What is the personal and societal cost of failed communication and an inadequate educational system? Deaf and hard of hearing children are at significant risk for outcomes far below their potential and remain at high risk for poor academic achievement, dropping out of school, and delays in the development of language and critical thinking skills.
For instance, deaf and hard of hearing children graduate from high school with a grade level in reading skills of 2.8 to 4.5. (Hearing children graduate with 10th-grade reading skills.) Further, between the ages of 8 and 18 years, deaf and hard of hearing children gain only 1.5 years in reading skills (Allen, 1986; Marschark, 1997; Schildroth & Hotto, 1993). Thirty percent of all deaf and hard of hearing children leave school functionally illiterate (Conrad, 1974); 57% of deaf and hard of hearing children exhibit academic deficits, and 60% are inadequately prepared for college (Commission on Education of the Deaf, 1988).
And if failed communication leads to failed education, then failed education leads to a failed adulthood. For instance, only 8% of deaf and hard of hearing students graduate from college (Commission on Education of the Deaf, 1988). Approximately a third of all deaf adults rely on some form of government assistance, and the average income of deaf adults is 40%-60% that of their hearing counterparts (California Public Utilities Commission, 1988). Approximately 40% of deaf adults are unemployed, and 90% are underemployed (Northern California Center on Deafness, 1998).
The development of fundamental academic skills, notably reading, is inexorably linked to early language development, not native intelligence: “The best deaf readers appear to be those who receive early exposure to sign language and exposure to the language in which they will eventually learn to read” (Marschark, 1997, p. 15).
Siegel, The Educational and Communication Needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children