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The Larsen ice shelf is the largest of its kind along Antarctica’s Northern Peninsula. The section known as Larsen A broke off in 1995. Larsen B broke away in 2002 in a particularly dramatic fashion. Larsen C, the largest section of the remaining shelf and the fourth largest in Antarctica, has a new rift, and it looks like it will be breaking away sooner than believed.
Larsen C Cracking from Antarctica Even Faster
What has scientists most nervous is that it no longer seems to be lengthening. Rather, the rift is widening. Right now it is more than 1000 feet wide and still growing.
Even more unnerving is this new rift, discovered only recently by Project Midas. This is a U.K. based research group in Antarctica. The new rift is a branch from the main fracture about six miles from its tip. It is about nine miles long itself, leaving only about 12 miles of ice still holding the entire structure in place.
“While the previous rift tip has not advanced, a new branch of the rift has been initiated,” says Adrian Luckman. He is a glaciologist from the UK-based Swansea University.