Giant Antarctica Iceberg Is On The Verge Of Breaking Off

Posted: Jun 1 2017, 12:56pm CDT | by , Updated: Jun 1 2017, 1:04pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Giant Antarctica Iceberg is on the Verge of Breaking off
Credit: NASA

The tip of Larsen C crack appears to have turned towards the ice front, indicating that the time of calving is probably very close

A huge iceberg is set to break away from Antarctica.

Researchers say that the rift on Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf is spreading fast and it will soon end up creating a massive iceberg. Once it breaks off, it will produce an iceberg measuring about 5,000 square kilometers - approximately the size of the state of Delaware. That would be one of the largest icebergs ever recorded.

“The rift tip appears also to have turned significantly towards the ice front, indicating that the time of calving is probably very close.” UK’s Swansea University researchers said in a statement.

The rift on Larsen C began growing rapidly across the ice shelf since 2014. It continued to get wider and deeper over the subsequent years. Although the rift has sprouted a new branch in May, it has been mainly static since the start of this year. But the crack has expended by 17 kilometers in the last six days, leaving just a 13 kilometer block attaching it to the main ice sheet.

“The rift has now fully breached the zone of soft ‘suture’ ice originating at the Cole Peninsula and there appears to be very little to prevent the iceberg from breaking away completely.” Researchers said

When the crack cuts the ice shelf all the way across, it will cause more than 10% of its ice to fall into the ocean. That amount of ice will significantly change the landscape of the continent. It will accelerate ice toward the ocean where it then adds to sea level rise. But researchers suspect that this split could lead to even more serious consequences. It could even make the remainder of Larsen C shelf weak and vulnerable to collapse.

Larsen C is the fourth largest as well as the most northerly of the Antarctic ice shelves. Larsen C’s neighbor ice shelve has also collapsed following similar rift-induced calving event. Larsen B disintegrated in 2002 because it developed a huge crack on its ice sheet. In 1995, another ice shelf, Larsen A, also shattered into pieces and disappeared. It means that two large ice shelves have collapsed in the past three decades and now the third one is nearing the same fate.

Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest-warming places on the planet and the rising temperatures are contributing to the breakup of ancient ice shelves.

Swansea research team says. “It is widely accepted that warming ocean and atmospheric temperatures have been a factor in earlier disintegrations of ice shelves elsewhere on the Antarctic Peninsula.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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