Shocking Aerial Footage Shows A Massive Crack In Antarctic Ice Shelf

Posted: Feb 23 2017, 9:11am CST | by , Updated: Feb 23 2017, 10:15am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Shocking Aerial Footage Shows a Massive Crack on Antarctic Ice Shelf
Credit: British Antarctic Survey

The crack will produce an iceberg roughly the size of the state of Delaware if goes all the way across the ice shelf

A new footage from British Antarctic Survey shows just how wide a crack on Antarctic’s Larsen C ice shelf has become.

If the crack continues to get wider and cuts the ice shelf all the way through, it will produce an ice berg around 5,000 square kilometers - roughly the size of the state of Delaware.

The massive crack or rift on Larsen C ice shelf was spotted in August 2016 and since then researchers are keeping a close eye on its development. Reseachers have seen that the rift is getting longer and deeper over the past few months. However, there is not enough information to know whether the expected collapse or calving event on Larsen C will bring significant changes to the landscape of the continent.

“Iceberg calving is a normal part of the glacier life cycle and there is every chance that Larsen C will remain stable and this ice will regrow. However, it is also possible that this iceberg calving will leave Larsen C in an unstable configuration. If that happens, further iceberg calving could cause a retreat of Larsen C. We won’t be able to tell whether Larsen C is unstable until the iceberg has calved and we are able to understand the behavior of the remaining ice.” Dr Paul Holland, a researcher from BAS said.

Larsen C is the fourth largest ice shelf of Antarctica, with an area of about 50,000 square kilometers. Situated along the northeastern coast of Antarctic Peninsula, this ice shelf is one of the fastest melting places in the world.

Antarctica has already lost its two ice shelves Larsen A and B in 1995 and 2002, respectively and it seems that Larsen C will follow the footsteps of its neighboring ice shelves. In 2002, Larsen B collapsed into the ocean after developing a rift similar to the one now growing in Larsen C.

The crack on Larsen C was measured about 70 miles long, over 300 feet wide and about a third of a mile deep in November 2017. It grew by 11 miles in December alone and is expected is spread even further in next few months.

Researchers will continue to monitor this ever-growing rift and assess its impact on the ice shelf.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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