TECH

Larsen C Ice Shelf: Dramatic Time-Lapse Video Shows Rift Opening Up

It's now expanding at a rate of five football fields a day.

08/02/2017 13:36 GMT | Updated 09/02/2017 10:04 GMT

Over the last eight weeks, a crack on the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica has grown 17 miles. Now a new video released by Project Midas, a UK-based Antarctic research project, has revealed its staggering history.

The European Space Agency

Scientists are warning that the shelf is growing at a rate of about five football fields a day, the New York Times reported.

It’s feared it could break in half at any moment, releasing into the ocean an iceberg a quarter the size of Wales.

The event wouldn’t have an impact on rising sea levels, but scientists are concerned it will leave the rest of the shelf at risk of fracturing.

If that happens, the grounded ice propped up by the shelf could also collapse, contributing to a global sea level rise of 10 cm.

NASA NASA / Reuters

The University of Swansea’s Professor Adrian Luckman, told BBC News last month he’d be amazed if the shelf didn’t break up in the next few months.

“There hasn’t been enough cloud-free Landsat images but we’ve managed to combine a pair of Esa Sentinel-1 radar images to notice this extension, and it’s so close to calving that I think it’s inevitable,” Luckman added.

In mid-January, scientists at the British Antarctica Survey published drone footage revealing the true scale of the vast crack.

The researchers have since been forced to start moving their base on the shelf

In a statement last month, a spokesperson said: “Changes to the ice, particularly the growth of a new crack, presents a complex glaciological picture that means that BAS scientists are unable to predict with certainty what will happen to the ice shelf during the forthcoming Antarctic winter.

“As a precautionary measure BAS will remove its people before the Antarctic winter begins.”