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Scientists warn about a new crack in the Antarctica's ice shelf

A Big Crack On The Antarctica's Ice Shelf Has Now Developed A Second Branch Which Has Been Steadily Widening, Scientists Have Revealed Based On Satellite Data.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Himani Garg | Updated on: 03 May 2017, 11:52:12 PM
Scientists warn about a new crack in the Antarctica ice shelf

New Delhi:

Scientists revealed the development of another branch in a huge crack on one of Antarctica's largest ice shelves which has been steadily widening.

The main rift in the ice shelf Larsen C, which is likely to lead to one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, is currently 180 kilometres (km) long.

Scientists fear that it's only a matter of time before a huge chunk might break away. If this happens, the ice shelf may become increasingly unstable and could even fall apart.

The Larsen C ice shelf is located off of Antarctica's prominent peninsula and is called a shelf because it floats on the ocean. And the scientists have been monitoring it closely.

Read more: Climate change: Greenland's ice is melting due to internal heat of Earth

The results show that a large rift in the ice has been advancing in rapid bursts in recent years. Between the beginning of December and the middle of January alone, the crack lengthened by about 17 miles. And since 2011, it has grown by about 50 miles.

Although the rift length has been static for several months, it has been steadily widening, at rates in excess of a metre per day, researchers said.

"It is currently winter in Antarctica, therefore direct visual observations are rare and low resolution. Our observations of the rift are based on synthetic aperture radar (SAR) interferometry from ESA's Sentinel-1 satellites. Satellite radar interferometry allows a very precise monitoring of the rift development", they said.

"When it calves, the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10 per cent of its area to leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded, this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula", said Adrian Luckman, professor at Swansea University.

"We have previously shown that the new configuration will be less stable than it was prior to the rift, and that Larsen C may eventually follow the example of its neighbour Larsen B, which disintegrated in 2002 following a similar rift-induced calving event", researchers said.

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First Published : 03 May 2017, 11:22:00 PM

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Antarctica Larsen C