Tuesday/ the Larsen C ice shelf crack

An ice shelf is an enormous flat expanse of ice floating on the ocean. The crack in the Larsen C ice shelf is 1/3 mile deep, down to the floor of the shelf. This picture from NASA, taken in November 2016.

Antarctica’s Larsen A and B ice shelves already disintegrated in 1995 and 2002, but both were drastically smaller than the large ice shelf called Larsen C, on the Antarctic Peninsula.  The impending collapse of part of Larsen C will really not raise sea levels, but it could affect glaciers behind it, and accelerate their melting.  Check out this article and graphics from the New York Times.

A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months
By Jugal K. Patel   – The New York Times, Feb. 7, 2017

A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day.

The crack in Larsen C now reaches over 100 miles in length, and some parts of it are as wide as two miles. The tip of the rift is currently only about 20 miles from reaching the other end of the ice shelf. Once the crack reaches all the way across the ice shelf, the break will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, according to Project Midas, a research team that has been monitoring the rift since 2014. Because of the amount of stress the crack is placing on the remaining 20 miles of the shelf, the team expects the break soon.

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