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However, the loss of an ice shelf can speed up the seaward flow of the non-floating glacial ice behind it, and this ice can in turn contribute to sea-level rise.Researchers have estimated that the loss of all the ice that the Larsen C ice shelf currently holds back would raise global sea levels by 10 centimeters, or just under 4 inches.
“The trajectory of the rift now implies that the higher of these two estimates is more likely.” The amount of ice that could be lost would be around 6,000 square kilometres — nearly the size of Delaware, said O’Leary, a glaciologist at Swansea University and one of the team’s members, by email.The amount of ice that could be lost would be around 6,000 square kilometres — nearly the size of Delaware " data-medium-file=" 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. quality=65&strip=all&w=620&h=620" width="620" height="620" class="size-full wp-image-1188986" srcset=" quality=65&strip=all&w=300&h=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 620px) 100vw, 620px" / 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.While the major worry outside of Antarctica is sea-level rise from the glaciers behind Larsen C, “it will also be a shame if the Larsen C ice shelf disappears as well,” said Jansen.Thermoluminescence (TL) and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) are the main techniques for studying the luminescence properties of several materials, mainly insulators called phosphors.In the 1980s, said Jansen, the Larsen B ice shelf underwent a large iceberg calving event much like what’s expected in the coming years at Larsen C, setting off a series of similar episodes until eventually the whole shelf disappeared.
“That took a while, but we think it might actually happen here as well,” Jansen said.
The crack in Larsen C grew around 30 kilometres, yawning some 200 metres 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 rift had grown another 22 kilometres since it was last observed in March 2016, and has widened to about 350 metres, report researchers from Project MIDAS, a British Antarctic Survey funded collaboration of researchers from Swansea and Aberystwyth Universities in Wales, and other institutions. What this means is that it may be only a matter of time before we see the loss of an enormous chunk of Larsen C — an historic event that would bring to mind the losses of the Larsen A ice shelf in 1995 and the sudden breakup of Larsen B in 2002.
Once the iceberg has calved off completely, there might be a tendency for the ice front to crumble backwards.” That could be further enhanced, she said, if warmer air temperatures cause the formation of large numbers of meltwater lakes atop the shelf.
The progress of the rift since 2011, " data-medium-file=" quality=65&strip=all&w=620" alt="Project Midas" src=" quality=65&strip=all&w=620&h=387" width="620" height="387" class="size-full wp-image-1188994" srcset=" quality=65&strip=all&w=300&h=187 300w" sizes="(max-width: 620px) 100vw, 620px" / The fear is that something could then happen with Larsen C analogous to the loss of the smaller Larsen B ice shelf, which proceeded slowly — at least until it didn’t.
“It’s hard to tell how soon it could break — we really don’t have a good handle on the processes which control the timing of the crack propagation,” O’Leary said.