Antarctica About to Lose 1 of Biggest Icebergs Ever

A 124-mile-long ice crack grew more than 10 miles over just 6 days
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2017 5:59 PM CDT
A 124-mile-long crack in Antarctica's Larsen C Ice Shelf is now only eight miles from the shelf's edge after growing more than 10 miles in the final six days of May.   (NASA)

(Newser) – Experts say one of the biggest icebergs in recorded history—it would be about the size of Delaware—is "very close" to separating from Antarctica, USA Today reports. According to the BBC, a 124-mile-long crack on the Larsen C Ice Shelf grew more than 10 miles over just six days to end the month of May. The crack, which had been running parallel to the edge of the ice shelf, also took a right turn toward the shelf's edge, CNN reports. The crack is now only eight miles from the edge of the shelf, and it appears there's nothing left stopping a major chunk of the shelf from calving free.

When the iceberg does split off, it will take 10% of the Larsen C Ice Shelf with it. The iceberg will be more than 1,900 square miles in size and 1,150 feet thick, Gizmodo reports. The loss will make Larsen C less stable, and one researcher says the entire shelf could fall apart "in a day or two." The Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves already broke up after similar events in past years. The loss of the ice shelf can increase the speed of glaciers flowing from the land to the ocean and therefore the speed of rising sea levels. Researchers are also concerned that larger and larger ice shelves appear to be breaking up. (What it looks like when a glacier calves an iceberg.)

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