Due to global warming and rising temperatures, glaciers are slowly melting – and, in some cases, breaking apart. A massive 8-mile crack is steadily growing along Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf – and when it splits, the resulting iceberg will be around 1,930 square miles (5,000 square kilometers) in size. That’s as big as Delaware – making it one of the largest icebergs ever recorded.
CNN reports that because the ice shelf’s direction has changed, it is breaking away from the rift at a fast pace. Adrian Luckman, lead researcher in UK-based research team Project MIDAS, said: “The rift tip appears to have turned significantly towards the ice front, indicating that the time of calving (breaking away) is probably very close. There appears to be very little to prevent the iceberg from breaking away completely.”
When the gargantuan formation does fully break away from the rift, “the Larsen C Ice Shelf will lose more than 10% of its area,” wrote Luckman. The resulting event “will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula.”
Researchers are concerned the rift’s change of direction and the sheer size of the iceberg will result in problems. For instance, Poul Christoffersen of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge is concerned that the whole ice shelf will disintegrate as a result of the event. “The ice shelf can and probably will undergo a rapid collapse,” he told the press. “And this isn’t a slow process — it can happen in a day or two.”
Researchers are also concerned that climate change is resulting in larger iceberg formations and thinner ice shelves around Antarctica. Said Christofferson, “The ice shelves that are collapsing are getting bigger and bigger.” When glaciers melt and break apart, sea levels rise – which results in increased flooding and natural disasters.
Christofferson added, “We need to make sure that we curtail our emissions of carbon dioxide so that we don’t destabilize the big ice shelves. If we go on with business as usual, we are playing with potential changes in sea levels that will affect millions and millions of people.”