NASA’s Icebridge mission has captured an image of a significant rift in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf. The situation shown in the photo, which was taken on November 10, is perhaps telling of the fate awaiting the frozen mass.
NASA notes, “Ice shelves are the floating parts of ice streams and glaciers, and they buttress the grounded ice behind them; when ice shelves collapse, the ice behind accelerates toward the ocean, where it then adds to sea level rise. Larsen C neighbors a smaller ice shelf that disintegrated in 2002 after developing a rift similar to the one now growing in Larsen C.”
The crack in the ice is both expansive and deep, measuring some 70 miles long and 300 feet wide. It extends roughly a third of a mile into the ice. Also mentioned by NASA is that, “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.”