Antarctic rift close to calving, grown 17kms in 6 days

0
101
Print Friendly

The rift in the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctic has grown by 17km in the last few days and is now only 13km from the ice front, indicating that calving of an iceberg is probably very close, Swansea University researchers revealed after studying the latest satellite data.
The rift in Larsen C is likely to lead to one of the largest icebergs ever recorded. It is being monitored by researchers from the UK’s Project Midas, led by Swansea University.
Professor Adrian Luckman of Swansea University College of Science, head of Project Midas, described the latest findings:
“In the largest jump since January, the rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf has grown an additional 17 km (11 miles) between May 25 and May 31 2017. This has moved the rift tip to within 13 km (8 miles) of breaking all the way through to the ice front, producing one of the largest ever recorded icebergs.
The rift tip appears also to have turned significantly towards the ice front, indicating that the time of calving is probably very close.
1-antarcticice
The rift has now fully breached the zone of soft ‘suture’ ice originating at the Cole Peninsula and there appears to be very little to prevent the iceberg from breaking away completely.”
Researchers say the loss of a piece a quarter of the size of Wales will leave the whole shelf vulnerable to future break-up.
Professor Luckman added:
“When it calves, the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10% of its area to leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded; this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The team say they have no evidence to link the growth of this rift, and the eventual calving, to climate change. However, it is widely accepted that warming ocean and atmospheric temperatures have been a factor in earlier disintegrations of ice shelves elsewhere on the Antarctic Peninsula, most notably Larsen A (1995) and Larsen B (2002).
They point out that this is one of the fastest warming places on Earth, a feature which will certainly not have hindered the development of the rift in Larsen C.