Alarming aerial footage shows Antarctic crack the size of 9 football fields
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) recently captured footage of a huge crack in the Antarctic Peninsula -- and it's chilling, to say the least.
The 1,500-foot fissure, which is about as wide as 9 football fields, runs through an area on the eastern side of the peninsula known as the Larsen C Ice Shelf.
It's neighbors, Larsen A and B, collapsed in 1995 and 2002, respectively.
Project MIDAS, led by Swansea University in Wales, United Kingdom, which been keeping a close eye on the rift's alarming growth over the past two years, expressed concern over the video in a statement released on Monday.
"BAS scientists are involved in a long-running research programme to monitor ice shelves to understand the causes and implications of the rapid changes observed in the region," it wrote.
"They shot this footage as they flew over the ice shelf on their way to collect science equipment."
"There is not enough information to know whether the expected calving event on Larsen C is an effect of climate change or not, although there is good scientific evidence that climate change has caused thinning of the ice shelf," the BAS said in a statement.
According to Dr. Paul Holland of the BAS, it's normal for ice shelves to produce icebergs every few decades -- and he seems pretty sure Larsen C will be no exception to this rule.
The question that has scientists concerned is, what happens to the rest of the shelf after the calving process happens?
"There is every chance that Larsen C will remain stable and this ice will regrow," Larsen said. "However, it is also possible that this iceberg calving will leave Larsen C in an unstable configuration. If that happens, further iceberg calving could cause a retreat of Larsen C. We won't be able to tell whether Larsen C is unstable until the iceberg has calved and we are able to understand the behaviour of the remaining ice."
Unfortunately, if Larsen C is anything like its old neighbor, we might be in trouble.
"After the collapse of Larsen B, its tributary glaciers accelerated, contributing to sea-level rise," said the BAS.
According to BBC, if all the ice Larsen C shelf currently holds entered the sea after this inevitable calving, global waters could rise by as much as 10 cm.