Shocking Crack in Ice Shelf Grows Another 11 Miles

Jan 07, 2017, 00:16
Shocking Crack in Ice Shelf Grows Another 11 Miles

A almost 2,000-square-mile section of the Larson C ice shelf is hanging on by a thread. It would be among the top 10 biggest icebergs ever recorded.

Researchers from the UK's Project Midas reported the Larsen C rift was growing rapidly.

The crack in the Larsen C Ice Shelf is more than 1,000 feet wide and has grown by 50 miles since 2011, according to the British Antarctic Survey.

"If it doesn't go in the next few months, I'll be amazed", Luckman told BBC News.

Scientists believe the 3,000 square mile area, the size of Wales, may lead to a four-inch rise in sea levels.

"We have previously shown that the new configuration will be less stable than it was prior to the rift", the researchers added, "and that Larsen C may eventually follow the example of its neighbor Larsen B, which disintegrated in 2002 following a similar rift-induced calving event".

According to theHuffington Post, the departing chunk of ice is part of what's known as the Larsen C shelf, the site of a crack that got significantly larger in the latter half of 2016. Scientists do say that climate change may have hastened the separation of the iceberg, but they have no direct evidence to support this.

The iceberg itself probably won't increase sea levels, but if the remaining ice shelf breaks up in the future, pushing glaciers into the ocean, there's a high probability sea levels will rise.

A sheet of ice the size of DE is nearly certain to break away from Antarctica soon, after a crack in an ice shelf grew dramatically at the end of 2016, researchers say.

Most of the world's ice shelves hug the coast of Antarctica.

A huge crack can be seen in the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen C ice shelf in this aerial image snapped on November 10, 2016, as part of NASA's IceBridge mission.

How long it will take for the rift to reach the edge of the ice and cause the iceberg to calve is still uncertain and depends on factors like local winds and sea ice conditions, MIDAS team member Daniela Jansen, a glaciologist at the Alfred Wegner Institute in Germany, said in an email, though she thinks it is "very close".

Indeed, if the calving triggers the total break-up of Larsen C, it would be the third major Antarctic ice shelf to collapse since the mid-1990s.

The breaking off, or calving, of ice shelves is a natural process, but global warming is thought to have accelerated the process. It's that ice that would raise sea levels, NASA scientist Thomas P. Wagner said.

Over time, a rift has steadily formed along the massive ice sheet, which lies in the Weddell Sea near the northwest of the Antarctic.

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