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Waves Central crack

The crack that’s been cutting into Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf is about to create a huge iceberg. An independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the public.


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  • Climate Central surveys and conducts scientific research on climate change and informs the public of key findings. Our scientists publish and our journalists report on climate science, energy, sea level rise .


    Members of the Climate Central staff and board are among the most respected leaders in climate science. Staff members are authorities in communicating climate and weather links, sea level rise, climate . Scientists have watched a rift grow along one of Antarctica’s ice shelves for years. Now it’s in the final days of cutting off a piece of ice that will be one of the largest icebergs ever recorded. It’s the latest dreary news from the icy underbelly of the planet, which has seen warm air and water reshape the landscape in profound ways.

    The current location of the rift on Larsen C, as of May 31 2017. The crack has spread 17 miles over the past six days, marking the biggest leap since January.

    It’s also turned toward where the ice shelf ends and is within eight miles of making a clean break. There’s not much standing in its way either. The growth follows reports from early May that the crack across the ice shelf had sprouted a branch, further underscoring how unstable the ice is becoming.

    Ice shelves float over water and essentially act as doorstops that hold back the vast Antarctic ice sheet. The breakup is sure to be a spectacle both awe-inducing and horrifying. The iceberg on the verge of splitting off is estimated to be the size of Delaware, covering an area of 1,930 square miles.

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    That’s equal to 10 percent of the ice shelf’s total area. Once it breaks off, scientists are concerned that the rest of ice shelf could collapse afterwards, a fate that befell Larsen A in 1995 and Larsen B in 2002. In Larsen B’s case, the ice shelf collapsed in the span of a month following an influx of mild air. Those areas help keep the ice shelf from falling apart. Losing them could dramatically reduce the remaining ice shelf’s stability.

    Larsen C is substantially larger than its former neighbors Larsen A and B, and its loss would be a huge blow to ice on the Antarctic Peninsula. The changes don’t just stop with the Larsen C crack or the Antarctic Peninsula in general. That’s helped prime parts of West Antarctica for what might be unstoppable melt that could raise sea levels at least 10 feet. Researchers also recently found meltwater ponds are much more common than previously thought.

    F further by the end of the century, putting more stress on ice. And the impacts will only grow more severe unless carbon pollution is reined in.

    Waves Rippled Through Greenland’s Ice. The Sentinel-1 satellites are crucial to watching not just the Larsen C rift but changes at both poles. The iceberg-to-be is hanging on by a thread, with just eight miles of solid ice standing in the way of a rift that’s spent years carving through the ice. Scientists can track the growth of the crack with precision during the summer season by flying over it, but even during the dead of Antarctic night, they’re still able to see it clearly thanks to eyes in the sky. 38 miles from January 2016-January 2017.

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