Crack in Antarctic Ice about to Set Iceberg Free

Floating iceberg

Giant ice crack threatens to set free an iceberg the size of Delaware

A giant crack on ice in Antarctica is making scientists worldwide worried. Climate change and global warming caused the crack in the ice, which is breaking at an alarming rate. Scientists discovered in November last year the large crack that may leave pieces of ice floating free. What is frightening is the fact that the floating blocks of ice may be as big as the entire U.S. state of Delaware.

The iceberg threatening to crack is called Larsen C. NASA reported its estimated canyon height at 18 km. The iceberg has been drifting away from Antarctica over the past years, but during the last months it got alarmingly far. NASA’s IceBridge mission documented the journey of the ice rift.

The mission reported that ice shelves, the floating parts of glaciers and ice streams, propped the ice behind them. When they collapse, the ice behind slides into the ocean, contributing to the sea level rise. Larsen C came off from behind a sea shelf that broke in 2002, following a crack similar to the one found in the iceberg. The neighboring sea shelf was called Larsen B.

NASA also reported that the crack was 70 miles long and had an opening with a width of around 300 feet. The deepest point measures around 1,700 feet.

The leader of the NASA expedition, Prof. Adrian Luckman, stated that Larsen C might break away completely from Antarctica in the next months. This means that the massive block of ice would be able to float free in the ocean. Luckman disregarded the speculations that stated the crack was a direct consequence of global warming. His theory is that the incident is a geological phenomenon, not a climatic one. However, he stated that the climatic conditions could have prepared the conditions that hastened the process of cracking.

As Prof. Luckman maintained, there is no strong evidence linking the massive ice rift to the process of global warming. The impending breakaway of the iceberg Larsen C is part of a continuous process of rift breaking in the Antarctic ice. The latest break of the kind took place in 2002, when iceberg Larsen B cracked and set free the iceberg we are struggling with right now. This progress of the imminent crack is worrying.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons