Antarctica’s 100 miles long crack in its ice shelves has reportedly increased by 6 miles over two weeks this month.
The extension of the rift in the Larsen C ice shelf ran roughly parallel to the ocean terminating front of the floating ice shelf, and so did not bring it any closer to breaking off a large piece – 12 miles of ice still connect the emerging ice island to the larger shelf. But the parallel growth may ensure that the iceberg when it does break off, will be somewhat larger.
Researchers recapitulated a statement they released earlier this month, signalling their suspicion that this will lead to the breakoff of a nearly Delaware-sized piece of ice and “leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded; this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.” They fear that the break could speed up the flow of the ice seaward and potentially destabilise the shelf, which holds back enough ice above sea level to raise oceans by 4 inches. But not every scientist necessarily agrees that will be the outcome.
Adrian Luckman a researcher said, “Every advance would seem to bring the end closer. However, the rift has now entered the softer suture zone ice originating from Cole Peninsula, which we believe to be more substantial than elsewhere, so it is still impossible to make predictions.”