Enormous Iceberg Gearing Up To Break Off Antarctica's Larsen C Ice Shelf

When it takes off, glaciologists predict the iceberg area to be roughly 5000 square kilometres, which is nearly twice the size of Australian Capital Territory.

-Scientists with the British Antarctic Survey now believe that the fracturing of the Larson C ice shelf from the polar cap is imminent, after a rift in the shelf grew vertiginously in the last month of 2016.

The huge rift in the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula has been present for decades.

"The normal life cycle of a snowflake that falls on Antarctica is to slowly get compressed into ice, to flow down off the land into the ocean, where it eventually either melts or turns into an iceberg", explains King.

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By itself, the soon-to-be iceberg will not add to sea levels, the likely effect of ice sheet disintegration that most worries scientists.

According to estimates, if all the ice that the Larsen C shelf now holds back entered the sea, global waters would rise by 10cm.

The iceberg, which measures approximately 5,000 square meters, is not the entirety of the Larsen C ice sheet. That puts the iceberg among the top 10 biggest that have been recorded.

With 350 meters of thickness, Larsen C drifts on the waters to the border of West Antarctica and is still connected to its parent shelf by 20 kilometers, as pointed out by the United Kingdom research team Project MIDAS. A separate rift in the East Antarctic is forcing a British research station to relocate. Several ice shelves have cracked up around northern parts of Antarctica in recent years.

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The Larsen C is the latest section of the huge ice shelf to break off. Larsen A collapsed in 1995. The incident could provoke the breakup of the entire ice shelf, which scientists predict might increase global sea levels as much as four inches.

A year ago was the warmest on record by a wide margin, stoked by greenhouse gases and an El Nino weather event that released heat from the Pacific Ocean, the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service said on Thursday, Jan. 5.

"By looking at what happened in the past we can gain insights into where our planet may be heading", said co-author UNSW Professor Chris Turney. Researchers are concerned when it comes to glaciers held by the Larsen C ice shelf.

The accelerating melting of land ice into the sea makes the surface of the ocean around Antarctica colder, less salty and more easily frozen, leading to extensive sea ice in some areas; one of the likely causes of increasing sea ice around Antarctica.

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An iceberg the size of Scotland is about to break off Antarctica
The rift is similar to a previous one that appeared on Larsen B, which caused the ice shelf to separate and disintegrate in 2002. According to estimates, if all the ice that the Larsen C shelf now holds back entered the sea, global waters would rise by 10cm.


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