A massive chunk of ice roughly the size of Delaware is about to break away from the fourth-largest Ice Shelf in Antarctica. British scientists have been watching a crack steadily develop in the Larsen C ice shelf for years. But the rift has expanded dramatically in the past few weeks, and there are now only about 12 miles of icepreventing a 1,900-square-mile section from coming free. The split not only will form one of the largest icebergs in history but also will leave Larsen C vulnerable to a complete collapse, which could speed up the flow of glacial ice into the ocean and indirectly add nearly 4 inches to global sea levels. Two neighboring ice shelves, Larsen A and Larsen B, collapsed after similar breakaways. The researchers believe the rift, which is now 100 miles long and 1,000 feet wide, will reach the shoreline imminently.
“If it doesn’t go in the next few months,” Swansea University’s Adrian Luckman tells BBC.com, “I’ll be amazed.”