The Enormous Larsen C Iceberg Is Beginning to Break Apart

The rise is where the ice shelf climbs over an island. The Bawden ice rise along with the Gipps ice rise, a rise on the southern end of where A68 used to be attached, are both crucial points that help anchor the ice shelf.

Researchers will be monitoring changes to those rises as well as across the ice shelf to unravel what the future holds. While most scientists have said the rift that led to iceberg A68 is due to natural causes, the fate of the remaining Larsen C ice shelf — and other ice shelves that ring Antarctica — is intertwined with climate change. Rising temperatures could melt them and send land ice tumbling into the sea faster, raising sea levels around the world.

“They are lying at sea level, in the warmest part of the continent, they are sitting on salty water that melts them from below,” Eric Rignot, an ice researcher at the University of California, Irvine, said in an email earlier this month. “Warm water is the main driver (of melt) now. If warmer air is sufficient to melt the surface, then the ice shelf will break up and sea level rise from Antarctica will enormous.”

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