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Cracks are still spreading where that massive Antarctic iceberg broke free

Cracks continue to spread on the Antarctic ice shelf where a trillion-ton iceberg roughly the size of Delaware broke free in July, scientists say. If these new cracks manage to shake loose key, stabilizing parts of the ice shelf, it’s possible that the ice shelf could collapse. That could speed the flow of Antarctic ice to the sea and cause sea levels to rise. On July 12th, 2017, a deep fissure cleaved a 2,500-square-mile iceberg off of the Larsen-C ice shelf in Antarctica. Satellite images show the iceberg has drifted about three miles since it broke free, and smaller ice chunks have crumbled from both the ice shelf and the iceberg. Now, scientists Anna Hogg at the University of Leeds and Hilmar Gudmundsson from the British Antarctic Survey want to know what losing such a massive chunk of ice will mean for the rest of the Larsen-C ice shelf. So they’re keeping watch via satellite, spelling out their next steps in an article published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. Ice shelves form when a land-based ice sheet dips into very cold ocean waters. Glaciers flowing off the landmass keep adding to the ice shelf, pushing it away from land until the ice wedges up against an underwater bump or ridge. That anchors the floating ice shelf, and turns it into a kind of cork that prevents the ice behind it from flowing into the ocean, Hogg told The Verge.

Read More: The Verge

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