Calving of the massive ice chunk raises questions about Larsen C’s stability
With a final rip, an iceberg roughly the size of Delaware has broken off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf. Anticipated for weeks, the fracture is one of the largest calving events ever recorded.
On July 12, satellite images confirmed a nearly 5,800-square-kilometer, 1-trillion-metric-ton chunk of ice, equivalent to 12 percent of Larsen C’s total area, split from the ice shelf. “[We] have been surprised how long it took for the rift to break through the final few kilometers of ice,” Adrian Luckman, a glaciologist at Swansea University in Wales, said in a blogpost for Project MIDAS, which has been tracking the effects of a warming climate on the ice shelf. Now the focus will shift to the stability of the remaining ice shelf and the fate of the giant iceberg.
Scientists had been monitoring Larsen C since 2014, when they noticed that a crack in the ice shelf had grown roughly 20 kilometers in less than nine