Scientists Warn A Giant Iceberg Close To Separating From Antarctic Ice Shelf

Shocking new footage has revealed just how close a massive crack, now wider in parts than the Empire State Building, is 'close' to falling off the Larsen C Ice Shelf and creating a huge iceberg. Experts are concerned the huge calving event, which would create an iceberg with an area of more than 5,000 km², roughly the size of Delaware or Wales, could leave the entire shelf unstable.

This, they warn, could contribute dramatically to sea level rise. '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,' said Dr Paul Holland, ice and ocean modeller at British Antarctic Survey.
'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 behaviour of the remaining ice.

'The stability of ice shelves is important because they resist the flow of the grounded ice inland. 'After the collapse of Larsen B, its tributary glaciers accelerated, contributing to sea-level rise.'
Satellite observations from February 2017 show the growing crack in the ice shelf which suggests that an iceberg with an area of more than 5,000 km² is likely to calve soon.
Researchers from the UK-based MIDAS project, led by Swansea University, have reported several rapid elongations of the crack in recent years, and today revealed it is upto 1500m wide in parts.

BAS scientists are involved in a long-running research programme to monitor ice shelves to understand the causes and implications of the rapid changes observed in the region, and shot the footage as they flew over the ice shelf on their way to collect science equipment. During the current Antarctic field season, a glaciology research team has been on Larsen C using seismic techniques to survey the seafloor beneath the ice shelf.
Because a break up looks likely the team did not set up camp on the ice as usual. Instead they made one-off trips by twin otter aircraft supported from the UK's Rothera Research Station.
Ice shelves in normal situations produce an iceberg every few decades.
Courtesy: DailyMail

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