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Crack in Larsen ice shelf

30 January 2017

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With its radar vision, Sentinel-1 is monitoring a rift in the Larsen-C ice shelf in the Antarctic peninsula that will eventually calve one of the biggest icebergs ever recorded. The crack in the ice shelf first appeared several years ago, but recently it has been lengthening faster than before. Carrying radar that can 'see' through the dark, the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellites are monitoring the situation.

The animation shows that the fissure has opened around 60 km since January last year. And, since the beginning of this January it has split a further 20 km so that the 350 m-thick shelf is held only by a thread. The crack now extends around 175 km.

When the ice shelf calves this iceberg it will be one of the largest ever recorded - but exactly how long this will take is difficult to predict. The neighbouring Larsen-A and Larsen-B ice shelves suffered a similar fate with dramatic calving events in 1995 and 2002, respectively.

Larsen ice shelf crack

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