Mahin Siddiki – TDO –The iceberg in questionis currently held by a 20km rift to the northernmost major ice shelf in Antarctica. The ice shelf has been named Larson C. Larson C floats at the edge of West Antarctica and holds back the flow of glaciers which feed into it.
The area of land which is supposed to break away is 5000 sq km, and has a depth of 350m. It is expected to be one of the ten largest icebergs recorded ever. A breakaway of such immense proportions worries researchers, because it leaves the rest of the shelf vulnerable to more breakaways.
Since the collapse of the Larson A ice shelf in 1995, and the Larson B ice shelf in 2002, researchers have been watching the progressing rift in Larson C with worry.
Researchers are divided as to whether this accelerated rift is a result of geographical change or climate change. While the rift was present in the ice shelf for decades, the rift accelerated vastly recently, perhaps due to climate change. However, scientists have said that they have no evidence to directly prove the involvement of climate change in the accelerated rift. Scientists are concerned about the possible collapse of Larson C however, since Larson B also collapsed after a large iceberg broke away.
If the Larson C collapsed, and all the ice it held back was released into the water, sea levels are likely to rise by 10cm, and the landscape is likely to change.
However, this is all speculation, as researchers cannot yet say definitely whether or not this rift will cause a collapse and eventual disintegration of the whole ice shelf.