Science

Giant Antartic Iceberg: Size Of Delaware; Is It About To Break Off?

By Dante Noe Raquel II , Jan 06, 2017 09:03 PM EST
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A long-running crack in the Larsen C ice shelf grew unexpectedly in December and now just 20km of ice is holding the 5,000-sq. km piece from moving away, read the Swansea University website. Investigators based in Swansea University's College of Science say the toll of a piece of a quarter of the size of Wales will leave the whole shelf helpless to future breakup.

Larsen C is roughly 350-m thick and floats on the seas at the edge of West Antarctica, holding back the current of glaciers that feed into it. Researchers have been following the rift in Larsen C for many years, succeeding the collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf in 1995 and the sudden break-up of the Larsen B shelf in 2002. Last year, scientists from the UK's Project Midas reported that the Larsen C rift was increasing fast.

Report Shows Of A Rapid Reaction Of The Rift May Have Been Affected Due To Climate Change

But in December 2016, the speediness of the rift went into freewheel, growing by an additional 18km in just a couple of weeks. What will become an enormous iceberg now hangs on to the shelf by a strand just 20km long.

Project Research Team Leader, Professor Adrian Luckman, was quoted as saying by Swansea University website: "If it doesn't go in the next few months, I'll be amazed. "There haven't been enough cloud-free Landsat imageries but we've managed to combine a pair of Esa Sentinel-1 radar images to notice this expansion, and it's so close to calving that I think it's unavoidable."

Per Professor Luckman, the area that will break off. It will be approximately 5,000 sq km, a size he said that would put the iceberg among the top ten biggest ever dated. Professor Luckman added that this is a terrestrial and not a climate change. Although it is allegedly contributed that climate warming has took forward the likely separation of the iceberg.

However, the investigators say they have no direct indication to support this. They are worried, though, about how any break-off will influence the rest of the ice shelf, given that its neighbor, Larsen B, crumbled spectacularly in 2002 following a comparable large calving event.

"We are persuaded, although others are not, that the lingering ice shelf will be less stable than the current one," said Professor Luckman. "We would expect in the subsequent months to years further calving events, and maybe a final collapse - but it's a very hard thing to foresee, and our models say it will be less steady; not that it will directly collapse or anything like that."

This Non-Floating Ice Would Have An Impact On Sea Levels

Per estimates, if all the ice that the Larsen C shelf currently holds back pass in the sea, global waters would rise by 10cm. "The eventual significances might be the ice shelf breaking up in years to decades," said Professor Luckman.

"Even the sea level involvement of this area is not on anybody's radar; it's just a big geographical event that will change the scenery there."

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