NASA captures massive rift potentially the size of Delaware in Antarctic Peninsula's ice shelf!

The Antarctic ice shelf, Larsen C, was actually made up of three ice shelves named Larsen A, Larsen B and Larsen C.

Updated: Dec 05, 2016, 22:38 PM IST
NASA captures massive rift potentially the size of Delaware in Antarctic Peninsula's ice shelf!
Image courtesy: NASA/John Sonntag

New Delhi: NASA's IceBridge mission, an airborne survey of polar ice completed an eighth consecutive Antarctic deployment on November 18.

On November 10, the scientists photographed an oblique view of a ginormous rift in the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen C ice shelf.

The massive crack has left scientists worried. The ice shelf is close to breaking off and as per NASA, it is about 70 miles long, more than 300 feet wide and about a third of a mile deep.

The crack completely cuts through the ice shelf but it does not go all the way across it – once it does, it will produce an iceberg roughly the size of the state of Delaware.

If the ice shelf does break off, which is what the scientists are afraid will happen eventually, it would reportedly be the largest event since the recorded iceberg calving in 2000.

The ice shelves breaking into icebergs might not immediately increase sea levels, but it would be enough to add new waters to the ocean before an alarming sea level increase is noted.

The Antarctic ice shelf, Larsen C, was actually made up of three ice shelves named Larsen A, Larsen B and Larsen C. Scientists considered the disintegration of Larsen A as just a part of the glacial cycle where it is natural for ice shelves to collapse. However, with Larsen B, the scientists grew alarmed as the collapsed happened just three months after the rift was found.

A combination of the increase of air and sea temperature due to global warming contributed to the fast disintegration of Larsen B. Now, scientists are more afraid that Larsen C will follow in the footsteps of Larsen B. The 300-foot wide, 70-mile long, third of a mile-deep crack is growing at an alarming rate and there is no stopping it, Science World Report reported.

According to Nature World News, aside from the Larsen C ice shelf, researchers are also focused on a key glacier in West Antarctic. Research reveals that the ice sheet has been breaking from the inside out, which highly suggest that the warming ocean is weakening the coastal ice shelf from underneath. The study from Ohio State University add that if this continues, sea levels would most likely be raised.

Check out the video below:

(Video courtesy: GeoBeats News)