An iceberg of about 5,000 square kilometers, considered to be one of the 10 largest ever recorded, is on the verge of being released from Antarctica, warn scientists at the University of Swansea, Wales.
A giant slit in the Larsen C segment, one of three on the Larsen ice shelf, rose rapidly during last December and at this time the iceberg is only attached to the platform by 20 kilometers of ice.
The Larsen C, 350 meters thick, is located on the eastern shore of the Antarctic peninsula and helps curb the flow of glaciers, in the ice rivers behind. This is the largest ice shelf in northern Antarctica. Usually, ice shelves are the portions of Antarctica where the ice sheet is on the ocean and not on the ground.
In this case, according to experts, it is a piece of ice whose extension could amount to a quarter of the territory of Wales, so that its detachment could trigger others successively.
Researchers have been observing for some years the gap in Larsen C, which increased after the collapse of Larsen A, the smallest segment of it around 1995, and Larsen B, which disintegrated almost completely in 2002″. If the iceberg of Larsen C does not come off in the coming months, I will be amazed, “Professor Adrian Luckman of the University of Swansea told BBC television.
And as he explained, the scientists observed the crevice increase through images from the Esa Sentinel satellite.
Luckman also stressed that this may be a geographical and not a climatic phenomenon, since the rift has existed for decades, but only deepened now.
For more certainty about the future of planet Earth after the release of this portion of the ice, the British Antarctic Research has now opened an investigation to be able to study what is behind this phenomenon and what can happen thereafter.
Meanwhile, a team has been established in the largest desert in the world that will use seismic techniques to understand what is happening under the sea under the ice.
David Vaughan, glaciology specialist at Phys Org, does not seem to see a bright future following these events, “The detachment of this great iceberg may be the first step towards the collapse of Larsen C, which would result in a disintegration of a large icy area in Many icebergs and small fragments”.
The danger is serious to the extent that the investigation teams are no longer able to camp on this side of Antarctica and need to be taken back and brought back by plane.
What are the consequences of the detachment and disintegration of Larsen C?
We are aware that the average level of sea water would not increase, that is, as this ice already floats in the water, so the volume it occupies would remain the same. The problem will be that platforms such as Larsen C function as a foothold that “hold” the glaciers that float toward the coast.
When Larsen A and Larsen B disengaged, the speed of the glaciers they held increased and entered the sea, thus contributing to the increase in the mean sea level.