Rapidly Melting Antarctic #IceShelf Is Close To Full Break

The New York Times is reporting this morning that a huge crack in Antarctica’s 4th largest ice shelf is growing so rapidly that it’s close to melting right off. Scientists say that the crack has melted so rapidly, it’s grown the length of about five football fields per day since December. Think about that: Five football fields per day!

The crack is called Larson C and it measures 100 miles in length and, in some areas, 2 miles wide. If and when Larson C does effectively break off from the main area of the ice shelf, it will create one of the largest icebergs every recorded. Project Midas, the research team that has been monitoring Larson C and it’s rapid recession, is expecting the mammoth iceberg to break off very soon.

By the way, this is horrible news.

Chinstrap penguin with two young

Chinstrap penguin with two young

Ice shelves are runoffs from glaciers. They float in the water and provide structural to support to the glaciers so, when ice shelves melt, the glaciers lose their support system and can begin receding towards the ocean and threaten global sea level rise. Higher temperatures in the area aren’t helping.

Of greatest concern to scientists is how the breakoff of Larson C can affect the glaciers behind them, because the melting of those glaciers will cause sea levels to rise immensely. In other words, if Larson C breaks off, there are much larger amounts of ice that will become vulnerable. Of course, Antarctica is home to polar bears and king penguins, walrus, whales and seabirds.

You can follow @NASAICE and #IceBridge, the 2017 expedition for scientists to learn as much as they can about “Earth’s sea ice, land snow, snow and permafrost” in Antarctica. The team of scientists will be flying into Greenland in March 2017. Follow the expedition here to learn more about Larson C, and donate to the World Wildlife Fund here.

Read the full story on The New York Times here.