By James, Michael Igiri
Scientists have warned a massive iceberg in Antarctica is dangerously close
to breaking off.
The rift in the Larsen C ice shelf has grown by 10.6 miles in just six days and, while
such cracks happen periodically, experts are also watching to see whether the
process has been affected by climate change.
A US online newspaper source reports that scientists at the University of Swansea
said the break could produce a new iceberg of about 1,900 square miles – one of the
largest ever recorded.
“There appears to be very little to prevent the iceberg from breaking away
completely,” they said.
Larsen C is about 350m thick and floats on the seas at the edge of West Antarctica.
It is the largest and most northerly of the Antarctic ice shelves and the release of the
new iceberg – called calving – would see it lose about a tenth of its total area.
It would not be enough to contribute to the rise of sea levels but it could leave the
main part of the ice shelf unstable, allowing it to collapse and release large amounts
of water, the scientists have said.
Professor Adrian Luckman, of Swansea University College of Science and head of
Project Midas, said the event would “fundamentally change the landscape of the
He added: “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
The news comes on the same day that US President Donald Trump announced he
would pull his country out of the Paris Agreement to limit climate change.
While Project Midas scientists said they have no evidence to link the growth of the
rift to climate change, it is widely accepted that warming ocean and atmospheric
temperatures were a factor in the disintegration of Larsen A and Larsen B.
Antarctica is one of the fastest-warming places on Earth, they said, adding that this
would “certainly not have hindered the development of the rift” in Larsen C.