Ice Shelf Twice the Size of Manhattan Is About to Break Off From Antarctica

Posted by on March 17, 2016 in Climate Change, Environment with 23 Comments
Christine Dow captured this image of the Nansen Ice Shelf via helicopter in December 2015. Photo credit: Christine Dow / NASA Earth Observatory

Christine Dow captured this image of the Nansen Ice Shelf via helicopter in December 2015. Photo credit: Christine Dow / NASA Earth Observatory

By Cole Mellino | EcoWatch

NASA scientists fear that a growing crack in the Nansen Ice Shelf may cause it to break free from the Antarctic coast and form a massive iceberg more than twice the size of Manhattan.

Related Article: Hidden Channels Beneath Antarctica Could Cause Massive Melt

“Over the course of two years, a small crack grew large enough to spread across nearly the entire width of the Nansen Ice Shelf,” NASA said in a post last week.

Ice shelves are thick plates of coastline ice that float over the ocean. This particular one, Nansen, measures about 20 miles wide and 30 miles long.

A team of scientists first noticed the crack in 2013, but two NASA scientists Christine Dow and Ryan Walker discovered in December 2015 that the crack had grown substantially. Dow and Walker were visiting the ice shelf to install GPS stations on it to track how it was affected by tides. When they flew over the area, they realized that it was no longer a small crack.

In 2013, NASA scientists noticed a small crack in the Nansen ice shelf. Photo credit: NASA Earth Observatory

By December 2015, satellite imagery showed that the crack stretched across nearly the entire length of the shelf. Photo credit: NASA Earth Observatory

“There’s a huge crack, miles long and sometimes over a hundred yards wide, which runs more or less parallel to the front of the ice shelf,” Walker wrote in a post in December 2015. “Over the winter, the sea surface freezes and traps small icebergs in the crack, producing a fascinatingly broken icescape.”

Related Article: West Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse Is Under Way

Antarctic winter is now setting in, and, as of this month, satellite imagery indicated the ice shelf was still attached. Though winter may not be enough to prevent the shelf from collapsing.


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23 Reader Comments

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  1.' Manjula Nanayakkara says:

    Let it be its has lost it controls..

  2.' Dr Kimberly McGeorge, ND, CNH says:

    .Should start people getting active

  3.' Rich Court says:

    Who cares,, this shit been happening for millions of years.

  4.' Michael Young says:

    The sky is falling!the sky is falling!!c(lie)mate change,another one of Obamas red herring distractions so you won’t notice the banking collapse or the tpip being ram rodded thru congress..

  5.' Sonia Anne says:

    It’s the hole in the centre of the earth. “Hollow earth” look it up on YouTube guys xx

  6.' Sonia Anne says:

    About ice shelf melting, please!!

  7.' Russell Burton Alexander Brown says:

    Would for sure make an area colder while it’s still frozen, but ultimately what could be hidden in the ice could be interesting if defrosted. Time will tell.

  8.' Prabhu Nepal says:

    Great when continents broke away from each other then allow nature to take its course. Change is the only thing constant and appreciate this by eradicating Fear. Live on Harmony with Nature! You’re much more safer than your handed over belief systems. A sick pattern given to innocent children by passed on societies.. Your experience is much more better than anyone’s belief system. Change your mind now!

  9.' Vigor Calma says:

    humans never have enough information to add them to an useful result. so: lets oserve and see what happens. some will find proof for smething bad, others for something good – and the world will keep turning…

  10.' Patricia Cameron says:


  11.' Thomas Chenhall says:

    That piece of ice will break off, will cool an area of water wherever it goes, and another sheet of ice will re-form there next winter.

  12.' Karen Cromwell says:

    natural process….it’s building up elsewhere… problem

  13.' Lee Collins says:

    That is very interesting, but depending on the level. I have not been by the water or lake to see where the level is but I’d be worried or concerned.

  14.' Andrew Farr says:

    This happens all the time, but wait a minute I thought the ice cap in Antatrtica would not exist anymore by 2015.

  15.' Raoul Duke says:

    wow very disappointing to hear so much skepticism : best to keep your head in the sand, or act now before it’s too late?

  16.' Christine Martin says:

    Most likely will have a major impact

  17.' Martin Schulz says:

    The Antarctic ice shelf is disintegrating and STILL people are spouting their global warming denier nonsense. It makes me wonder exactly how bad things will have to get before they all finally wake up to reality.

  18.' Karl J. Gabrielsen says:

    There have been occurrences of this in recent years that were orders of magnitude greater than the size of Manhattan…

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