Tags: antarctice | ice | shelf | crack | branch

Antarctic Ice Shelf Crack Branches Into Second Fissure

Image: Antarctic Ice Shelf Crack Branches Into Second Fissure

This Nov. 10, 2016, aerial photo released by NASA, shows a rift in the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen C ice shelf. (John Sonntag/NASA via AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 02 May 2017 04:34 PM

A 110-mile crack in an Antarctic ice shelf has spread to a second branch and may break off completely in the near future.

The crack in the Larsen C ice shelf is expected to cause a 2,000-square-mile piece of the shelf to float away as a huge iceberg in the near future since only 12 miles of solid ice are left to hold it all together.

“While the previous rift tip has not advanced, a new branch of the rift has been initiated,” said Adrian Luckman of Project MIDAS, which is watching the crack, USA Today reported. The new branch of the crack is curved toward the edge of the ice shelf and may lead to the huge piece breaking off sooner.

Although the crack has not gotten longer for several months, it has been widening by more than 3 feet per day. The new branch, which is about 9 miles long, is the first significant change to the crack since February, according to Phys.org.

The loss of the piece expected to break off may lead to more pieces breaking off in the future, which could lead to higher sea levels, Phys.org reported. More than 10 percent of the shelf’s area is represented by that piece.

“This event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula,” Luckman said, USA today reported.

The Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated in 2002 following a similar event.

The MIDAS Project plans to continue monitoring the rift, and other organizations are also keeping tabs on the crack, including NASA, which has been taking photos from space.

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A 110-mile crack in an Antarctic ice shelf has spread to a second branch and may break off completely in the near future.
antarctice, ice, shelf, crack, branch
264
2017-34-02
Tuesday, 02 May 2017 04:34 PM
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