A huge crack is spreading across one of Antarctica’s biggest ice shelves



**For some time, scientists who focus on Antarctica have been watching the progression of a large crack in one of the world’s great ice shelves — Larsen C, the most northern major ice shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula, and the fourth largest Antarctic ice shelf overall.

Larsen C, according to the British Antarctic Survey, is “slightly smaller than Scotland.” It’s called an ice “shelf” because the entirety of this country-sized area is covered by 350 metre thick ice that is floating on top of deep ocean waters.

The crack in Larsen C grew around 30 kilometres in length between 2011 and 2015. And as it grew, also became wider — by 2015, yawning some 200 meters in length. Since then, growth has only continued — and now, a team of researchers monitoring Larsen C say that with the intense winter polar night over Antarctica coming to an end, they’ve been able to catch of glimpse of what happened to the crack during the time when it could not be observed by satellite.**

The article continues at the link.


The scientist in the article calls the loss of Larsen C as tragic. I don’t know about that. They really don’t know what will happen. I can certainly understand some anxiety though as they really don’t know what the impact will be.

Thanks for sharing.


sea ice has no effect on sea level (basic science)




Ice that is in the water/sea is already displacing whatever water it will displace. Hence, as it melts it doesn’t raise the water/sea level at all. Put an ice cube floating in a cup of water and watch it melt- level doesn’t change.

Ice that is on land which melts will contribute to sea level rise.


The article points out that the ice shelves hold back non-floating ice. When the shelf goes, the ice it was holding back goes into the ocean. Per the article they estimate it could lead to as much as a 10cm increase in sea level.


However, they don’t know that is what will happen. Thus the reason I believe calling it ‘tragic’ is a bit premature.


It’s already afloat. So the max displacement is already there.

If it were sliding off the land, or sitting on the bottom, that would be different.



Put ice cubes in a glass and measure the water level. It doesn’t change when the ice melts.

Also, this is just nature, Ice shelves are constantly breaking off as they are pushed out from land


ice shelves provide no friction to hold back land ice. Only land ice has friction with the ground that would slow the flow of ice further inland.


Ice shelves have mass which slows ice-sheet flow. When they collapse or break up ice-sheet flow into the ocean increases. This raises sea levels.


I wonder what would be the possibility of setting up a slow tow, then using melting and using the water in the Sahara, or if that is to far, Patagonia?


I don’t know, but my guess is it would be less efficient than desalination.


Nope, it takes very little force to push a large mass in water, at the rate of glaciers.
Could easily argue that gravity and wave motion is acting pulling the glaciers into the water.


You seem to be making the mistake that attached ice shelves on a continental scale should behave like boats on the water but whatever the reason you decide to believe contributes to increased ice flow the breakup of ice shelves increases glacial flow and raises sea level.


You seem to think all ice shelves are equal. Such backpressure occurs only on on iceshelfs that are bounded by islands or coastline. The ice is sandwiched between the mainland and the earth feature.

Larsen has no such feature, unlike most of the other Antarctic Ice Shelves


Monty Brewster looked into that very idea in the 80’s. Funded it with some of his $30 million inheritance. It didn’t work out if I remember correctly. :D:D


It was bounded by Robertson Island before Larsen B collapsed. The point is just because there’s nothing holding Larsen C now doesn’t mean it moves around like a raft. It took 15 years of strain after the Larsen B collapse to get to the point of Larsen C collapse. When it’s gone glacial flow will accelerate and sea levels will rise.


I’m pretty well convinced that in 100 years, we’ll all be dead.


Yeah, and we may or may not be coming out of the next global cooling phase we appear to be on the brink of…


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