Science Art: Rift in Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf, by NASA/John Sonntag

Rift in Antarctica's Larsen C Ice Shelf,  Credit: NASA/John SonntagClick to embiggen

Big valley in the Antarctic ice. A bonus image for the New Year, from NASA’s Image Gallery, photographed a couple weeks before Thanksgiving 2016:

Ice shelves are the floating parts of ice streams and glaciers, and they buttress the grounded ice behind them; when ice shelves collapse, the ice behind accelerates toward the ocean, where it then adds to sea level rise. Larsen C neighbors a smaller ice shelf that disintegrated in 2002 after developing a rift similar to the one now growing in Larsen C.

The IceBridge scientists measured the Larsen C fracture to be about 70 miles long, more than 300 feet wide and about a third of a mile deep. The crack completely cuts through the ice shelf but it does not go all the way across it – once it does, it will produce an iceberg roughly the size of the state of Delaware.

Backers of the new Blue Star Line Titanic II project, take note!