The oceans of the southern hemisphere are slowly melting.
Here’s a first-look at what’s happening.
The images are of an area about 40,000 square kilometers (25,000 miles) in size, covering a swath from the Indian Ocean all the way to the Australian continent.
The region has been melting at a rate of 2.5 degrees Celsius (5.5 Fahrenheit) per year for the past two years, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
It’s been the worst melting on Earth in the past 200 years.
But the images have drawn attention in recent days from scientists, who are trying to understand what’s causing the melt, and whether humans are to blame.
“It’s a mystery,” said David Smith, an oceanographer at the University of Melbourne.
“There are so many things that are happening in this region, and there’s no single cause.”
What’s happening in the South China Sea?
A huge iceberg has broken off an ice shelf, sending a massive mass of water crashing into the ocean.
The ice sheet, which forms when an iceberg calves, is melting at rates of 2 to 5 centimeters per year, and the largest iceberg ever recorded is more than 8 meters (23 feet).
The massive mass is pushing up against the ocean, which is absorbing some of the heat, which makes the ice sheet break off.
A video shows a massive iceberg that broke off an iceberg on the seafloor of the South Chinese Sea on July 8, 2018.
The iceberg broke off at 7:46 p.m. local time, just over a week after an iceberg from the same region broke off earlier in the month.
It is now estimated that the sea surface area in the southern Chinese region is the third largest in the world.
What’s the story in the Indian ocean?
Scientists are puzzled by the massive mass.
The southern Indian Ocean is one of the world’s most important fishing grounds for fishing vessels, which could explain why the icebergs are happening at a faster rate than usual.
“It’s very likely that the Indian part of the Indian subcontinent is getting warmer, so this is really just part of what is happening there,” said Dr. James Cook, an expert in climate change at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Cook also noted that the southern Indian ocean is warming, meaning the waters in the region are getting warmer.
The melting could be because of the melting of the ice in the area.
“The heat that we’re seeing in the Southern Ocean is very consistent with that of the northern Indian Ocean,” he said.
“We know that the ice there is getting thicker and thinner as it warms up, so the melting is consistent with this.”
Scientists say the melting in the northern and Indian oceans could be linked to global warming.
They also note that the melting could contribute to the spread of tropical diseases.
But scientists are cautious.
Dr. Cook said that while they don’t know the cause, it’s possible that the warming is due to greenhouse gases that are also causing the ocean to heat up.
That could explain the recent surge of tropical storms, and also why sea levels are rising faster than normal in parts of the globe.
“The warming is certainly happening in an unexpected way,” Dr. Smith said.
And the effects of the iceberg could be more widespread than just the Indian portion of the ocean in the south.
Dr Cook said the melting has been happening for several years in the far northern regions of the western Pacific.
“This is happening over land, too, so it’s not just an isolated event,” he added.
More to come