Iceberg the Size of Delaware Close to Breaking off Antarctic
According to Project MIDAS, a UK-based Antarctic research team, a large section of an ice shelf known as the Larsen C is close to calving, making it to be one of the largest ice bergs on record.
NASA IceBridge scientists have measured the Larsen C fracture to be about 70 miles long, more than 300 feet wide and about a third of a mile deep. NASA reports that the crack completely cuts through the ice shelf but it does not go all the way across it. But once it does, according to NASA, it will produce an iceberg roughly the size of the U. S. state of Delaware.
In an update posted on July 7, the Project MIDAS website says, “In late June 2017, the soon-to-be iceberg tripled in speed, producing the fastest flow speeds ever recorded on Larsen C, and seemed to be on the verge of breaking free”
Satellite data shows multiple rifts which Project MIDAS expects will lead to the formation of several smaller icebergs in addition to the large iceberg expected to have an area of 5,000 sq km.
The Project MIDAS uses data from ESA’s Sentinel-1 satellites which are updated about once every six days. Based on the most recent data, the iceberg is hanging onto the shelf by a thin band of ice.
On July 6, Principal Investigator for the Swansea side of Project MIDAS, Adrian Luckman shared this update on Twitter:
Close-up of #Sentinel1 Larsen C interferogram – rift branches in all directions. See also: https://t.co/dCZI9Tegtz. Not one clean berg then! pic.twitter.com/sxsCQFZsli
— Adrian Luckman (@adrian_luckman) July 6, 2017
When it calves, Project MIDAS expects the Larsen C Ice Shelf to lose more than 10% of its area, fundamentally changing the landscape of the Antarctic Penisula.
Project MIDAS is a UK-based Antarctic research project, investigating the effects of a warming climate on the Larsen C ice shelf in West Antarctica.