Giant Crack in Antarctic Ice: Largest Recorded Iceberg is Breaking

Environment
Giant Crack in Antarctic Ice: Largest Recorded Iceberg is Breaking Newly Found Crack Across the Pine Island Glacier (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / FLICKR) with CC BY 2.0

Scientists worldwide are concerned over a giant crack on Antarctic ice that is breaking at a rapid rate. Experts believe that the breaking of the massive ice sheet signals another terrible consequence of the so-called global warming.

It was in November last year when environmental experts noticed a large crack that may leave free-floating ice as big as the entire U.S. state of Delaware. The iceberg, called the Larsen C, has an estimated canyon height of 18km, NASA reported.

Larsen C Rifts

Although the Larsen C iceberg has been drifting from the Antarctica over the past years, it has hasten in months time. This has resulted in the deployment of NASA’s IceBridge mission, which documented the progression of the ice rift.

“Ice shelves are the floating parts of ice streams and glaciers, and they buttress the grounded ice behind them; when ice shelves collapse, the ice behind accelerates toward the ocean, where it then adds to sea level rise. Larsen C neighbors a smaller ice shelf that disintegrated in 2002 after developing a rift similar to the one now growing in Larsen C,” NASA’s IceBridge mission reported.

According to NASA’s monitoring, the rift spans around 70 miles and an opening as wide as 300 feet. It measures around 1,700 feet at its deepest point, the NASA report added.

Changes Antarctica’s Landscape

Prof Adrian Luckman, who led the NASA expedition, noted that the massive ice is likely to break away from Antarctica in the next few months. This means that the Larsen C iceberg would be floating in the ocean, BBC reported.

But Luckman shrugged off speculations that the massive rift is a direct consequence of global warming. Instead, he said it’s more of a geological phenomenon than a climatic one. He, however, said that global warming may have laid down the foundation and provided the condition to hasten the event.

As of the moment, there have been no hard evidence to support the incident’s relationship with the warming of global temperature. The impending breaking away of the Larsen C followed the monumental rift of its neighboring iceberg, the Larsen B, from Antarctica in 2002. Both events have significant effects on the landscape of the frozen continent.

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