Scientists have discovered a giant, ever-growing crack in the Larsen C Ice Shelf, located in West Antarctica. In the future, this can lead to the fact that a piece of ice that has broken away from it with an area of about 6, 5 thousand square meters. km will be the largest iceberg on record.
A British research team under the MIDAS project has been monitoring this fracture for several years. Previously, a similar process took place on the neighboring glaciers - Larsen A and B, as a result of which in 1995 and 2002 icebergs broke away from them, which were much smaller.
Since these glaciers have been “floating” for a long time, their melting will not lead to an increase in the level of the world ocean, but the very process of their formation testifies to dangerous changes taking place in West Antarctica.
The researchers note in their blog that ice shelves hold back the glaciers that feed them. When the ice breaks, the process of melting of the feeding glaciers increases dramatically, causing the sea level to rise. The Larsen C fault highlights the vulnerability of the West Antarctic ice sheet.
Last year's report by the US National Center for Snow and Ice Research described one of the possible catastrophic scenarios. As a result of total destructive changes in West Antarctica, the sea level may rise by 3.3 meters in the coming decades.