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Larsen C Ice Shelf Crack Has Grown By Another 10 km

First Posted: Jan 23, 2017 03:30 AM EST
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The rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf has continued spreading by another 10 kilometers since the start of January 2017. The rift now totals to more than 100 miles long or 195 kilometers.

Adrian Luckman, the professor of Swansea University, said that the rift has just entered a new area of softer ice, which will slow its progress. He further said that although one might expect any extension to hasten the point of calving, it remains impossible to predict when it will break because the fracture process is so complex.

Professor Adrian Luckman is uncertain on how long the 5,000 sq km block will break. On the other hand, it is theorized that once the crack reached its peak, a massive iceberg bigger than Rhode Island will break off Antarctica. This would be the biggest iceberg ever recorded, according to BBC News.

According to Project MIDAS, a British Antarctic research project, the break "will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula." Meanwhile, Ted Scambos, a NASA scientist with the data center, explained that if the iceberg did break off, it would not contribute to sea-level rise since it is already floating. On the other hand, the land ice that had been locked by the berg would plop into the sea. This will trigger the rise of sea levels. He added that ice shelves serve a critical role in buttressing ice that is on land, according to USA Today.

The cause of the rift on the Larsen C Ice Shelf is unclear as of yet. On the other hand, the British researchers said that there is a good scientific evidence that climate change has triggered the thinning of the ice shelf.

Once the iceberg is cropped, it would float in the coast of Antarctica then leads to the Southern Ocean. Scambos said that as it moved north, ocean temperatures both at the surface and at the base of the berg would begin to thin it and erode it from the edges. The berg would break into smaller parts, then it would liquify into the ocean.

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