New data from NASA is showing that the breakup of the massive Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica is getting closer and will eventually produce an iceberg a third of the size of Wales.
NASA has released a new image taken by researchers flying above the ice shelf on 10 November which shows the crack is getting longer, deeper and wider. The Larsen C fracture has been measured to be 70 miles long, more than 300 feet wide and about a third of a mile deep.
Scientists believe it will eventually cause a large section of the shelf to break off.
When this iceberg calving happens, likely within the next 10 years, it will be the largest calving event in Antarctica since 2000, the third biggest such event ever recorded and the largest from this particular ice shelf.
Ice shelves breaking off into icebergs do not directly increase sea levels, since their ice is already resting in the ocean. However, because they act like doorstops to the land-based ice behind them, when the shelves collapse, the glaciers begin moving into the sea. This adds new water to the ocean and therefore increases sea levels.
The nearby Larsen B Ice Shelf made worldwide headlines in 2002 when it broke up after a similar process of rift-induced iceberg calving. The Larsen B event was featured in the opening scenes of the climate change-related disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow.
SOURCE 1 : MashableUK – NASA photo reveals a startling 300-foot-wide rift in Antarctic Ice Shelf [03 Dec ’16]
SOURCE 2 : LiveScience – 70-Mile-Long Crack Opens Up in Antarctica [06 Dec ’16]