A Huge Crack Is Threatening One Of Antarctica’s Largest Ice Shelves

Posted: Aug 24 2016, 3:01am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


A Huge Crack is Threatening One of Antarctica’s Largest Ice Shelves
The current location of the rift on Larsen C. Credit: Project MIDAS
  • An 80 Mile Rift is appearing in Antarctica’s Largest Ice Shelves

It so happens to be the case that an 80 mile rift is appearing in Antarctica’s largest ice shelves.

Researchers have been noticing an ever-widening rift in Antarctica with great interest and apprehension. This crack has appeared in one of our planet’s great ice shelves.

Termed Larsen C, this happens to be a northern ice shelf in Antarctica. Also it is the fourth largest Antarctic ice shelf when you compare it to all the rest.

Larsen C is slightly smaller than Scotland. It has been termed an ice shelf due to the fact that it is covered with a solid ice sheet that is 350 meters in breadth.  

The ice shelf lies on top of deep oceanic waters. The crack that was mentioned a paragraph back appeared between 2011 and 2015. It grew 30 km in length during this four year period.

By the time 2015 was in its prime, this crack had also become 200 meters in length and its width was also on the increase. Ever since then, the growth of this gaping rift has only continued apace with the times. A group of experts are now examining this abyss in order to be able to gauge the exact nature of the phenomenon.  

The monitoring activity will be especially useful after the end of the lengthy winter period that was extant over Antarctica. The results speak for themselves. The rift has grown another 22 km since March of 2016. It has also widened by 350 meters.

The overall length is now approximately 130 km. What this basically portends is a time in the future when this portion of the Antarctic Continent will be lost to the high seas into which it will float away after detaching itself from the mother continent.  

This conjures up memories of similar losses in the past. Larsen A and Larsen B come to mind since they were lost in 1995 and 2002 respectively.

The last time such an event occurred, it was noted down that this was the first time that such an event had transpired since the glaciers took over about 12,000 years ago.

“We previously showed that this will remove between nine and twelve percent of the ice shelf area and leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever,” Adrian Luckman, Daniela Jansen, Martin O’Leary and members of the Project MIDAS team, told Washiongton Post. “The trajectory of the rift now implies that the higher of these two estimates is more likely.”

We have a lot to lose in terms of frozen land mass due to this scheme of things. It is not an easy task to predict when the land mass will break off from the Antarctic.

It is rather like prognosticating a seismic shift. The blame lies squarely on global warming though. As for the waters rising along the coastal areas of the world, that is a price that will have to be paid thanks to our extravagant ways as a species. 

This study got published in the journal Nature Communications.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.




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