In February, scientists revealed that a crack measuring 80 miles along the ice shelf Larsen C in Antarctica. Now, they discovered a new one extending from the other, which has already spread over six miles. Therefore, the cracks will shortly separate an ice surface of 2,000 squares from the main block and let it float freely in the sea.
Project MIDAS studies the Larsen C Ice Shelf
A team of British scientists started analyzing the Larsen C Ice Shelf several years ago, and gathered all the observations regarding the crack in a study dubbed Project MIDAS. The crack had been present for a few years but, last December, it started growing more rapidly and advanced 12 miles. Over the following month, it advanced six more miles. This happened during a period of two weeks.
Therefore, the scientists expect that a huge piece of ice should detach from the main Larsen C block and collapse into the sea. This piece would be around the size of Delaware, and would represent around 10 percent of the entire ice surface.
The collapse of the ice block is imminent
However, the event might occur any time soon. Researchers have recently noticed that a second crack appeared along the ice, so the block is now in more danger than ever of collapsing. This is the first main change which occurred since February, but observations are difficult to make during wintertime.
Also, the warmer water and the higher temperature are not helping. The crack did not extend, but it widened instead, until it reached 1,500 feet in width. Everything contributes to the instability of the block, so the moment of its collapse might be much closer than everybody has expected.
This is a huge concern for all environmental scientists and climate change activists. Such a collapse would contribute directly to the increase of the sea level. Also, it would represent the best example of what global warming can do.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons