rift in West Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf is about to expel a
1,000 foot tall, Delaware-sized iceberg into the Southern Ocean. The
crack began to form in 2011. But over the past year, it has expanded
rapidly. Now this massive, newly-forming iceberg hangs by just a thin
13 kilometer wide thread.
you can see from the above Sentinel 1 animation posted by Adrian
Luckman, rift progression has occurred in large leaps as pressure on
the shelf reached various breaking points. New additions to the rift
have often been in jumps of 20 kilometers or more of rift length in
numerous instances over the past year. With just 13 kilometers of
connecting ice remaining, the entire state-sized iceberg could now
break off at any time.
to Project Midas, late
June observations show the crack continuing to widen at the rate of
about 2 meters per day. So the larger section of the newly-forming
berg is progressing toward the Southern Ocean at a rather rapid rate.
And this movement is increasing strain on the small remaining ice
bridge to the larger Larsen C Shelf.
cities are already suffering from rising ocean levels. However,
future rates of sea level rise can increase considerably over present
rates depending on how rapidly glaciers and ice shelves are taken
down by human-forced warming. Image source: Taino.)
ice shelf losses are a rather serious affair as they release the
glaciers behind them — allowing these massive ice forms to enter
the world ocean more rapidly and thus increasing the rate of global
sea level rise. Already, numerous cities, islands and nations are
under threat from oceans presently rising at the rate of 3.3
millimeters per year globally. But loss of buttressing ice shelves
like Larsen C and others around Antarctica and Greenland may double
the present rate of rise many times over.
a recent meeting of over 250 U.S. Mayors in Miami to discuss how
climate change is presenting a serious threat to cities,
New York’s Bill de Blasio told reporters: “Miami Beach is facing,
literally, an existential crisis.” But it’s not just Miami that’s
under the gun. It’s pretty much every coastal town, city, state and
nation around the world. And Larsen C is just one of the most recent
sea level rise canaries to begin to show signs of ailing in the
global warming coal mine.