News & information on Antarctica & the Southern Ocean

Update on Larsen C Ice Shelf crack – 19km ice thread still connects future 5000km2 iceberg to main shelf

Advancing crack on Larsen C Ice Shelf photo: John Sonntag, NASA

Hanging on like a loose tooth! First spotted in 2011, the advancing 180km crack across the Larsen C Ice Shelf now has a mere 19km ice bridge to cut through before it lets loose a massive iceberg larger than Rhode Island.

"It is particularly hard to predict when it will occur," said Adrian Luckman of Project MIDAS, a British Antarctic Survey research project that monitors the ever-growing crack. "I am quite surprised as to how long it is holding on!"

"The rift (or crack) has continued to open, and the berg continues to drift outward at a very consistent rate. Calving (the process by which the berg shears off) is not dependent at all on air temperatures. The ice that is fracturing is buried deep in the shelf and does not feel the change in seasons. If anything, I would say that winter might make the calving more likely because of mechanical stresses caused by wind and waves. But I should stress again, this is not a predictable process because we know only a little about the nature of the ice. It could go today, or it may be months."


Related Articles
Latest Podcast Episodes