Larsen C ice shelf crack splits

A crack separating the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica has been growing over the last decade, increasingly quickly since 2015.

Scientists have now detected a split in the crack, and think that it won’t be long before the ice shelf splits off altogether.

Previous splits:

Gizmodo: A Second Giant Crack Has Appeared On Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf

A 130km-long crack along Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf has remained stable since February, but scientists have now detected a new branch, one that’s extending about 10km from the main rift. It seems like only a matter of time before the 5000 square kilometre ice shelf plunges into the sea.

Geologists with Project MIDAS, a UK-based research project studying the effects of melting on the Larsen C ice shelf, have been monitoring the crack for several years now, but the rift experienced a sudden growth spurt this past December when it grew by 20km.

In January, the crack advanced another 10km over the course of two weeks. The Larsen C Ice Shelf is fully expected to collapse, or calve, at which time it will lose more than 10 per cent of its ice surface area (a region roughly the size of Delaware). The latest observations suggest this monumental event may happen sooner rather than later.


The current location of the rift on Larsen C, as of 1 May 2017.

A report from Project MIDAS shows that, as of 1 May 2017, a new branch has appeared along the rift. The fissure emerged about 10km behind the tip of the main channel and is heading towards the ice-front. “This is the first significant change to the rift since February of this year,” write the geologists.

See also What Happens When That Enormous Antarctic Ice Shelf Finally Breaks?

Maybe some of the remnants will float up the coast of new Zealand again, as happened in 2006.