A long, steep, newly discovered fissure is fragmenting the Isla Pine glacier, located in West Antarctica.
The crack – about 30 kilometers long – was located by Stef Lhermitte, assistant professor in the Department of Geoscience and Remote Sensing at the University of Technology in Delft (Netherlands), after analyzing satellite images of the Pine Island glacier that are received via email each day.
The rupture of the immense platform of ice began in its center, where the ice shelf touches warmer ocean waters that are melting it from underneath, according to Lhermitte.
The future iceberg is not yet completely detached. However, according to the scientist, this could happen “relatively soon”, because the crack crosses almost the entire glacier. “I estimate that this will happen at any time during this Antarctic summer,” said Lhermitte. If the detachment is large enough, it will receive a name, he added.
The upcoming ~300km iceberg (or its disintegrated pieces) will be the next large calving event after iceberg B-44 last year and the 6th large calving of #PIG since 2018 [2/n] pic.twitter.com/LdJ2caJrhv
— Stef Lhermitte (@StefLhermitte) October 4, 2018
Worryingly, another similar event happened in 2017 when a massive Iceberg, 4.5 times the size of Manhattan broke off Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica.
“It was Wednesday evening [Oct. 3] and all of a sudden I saw something I didn’t see the day before,” he told Live Science.
Lhermitte notes that this will be the sixth large-calving even that Island has experienced since 2001.
And while it is completely natural for a glacier to calf icebergs, the concerning fact about Pine Island Glacier is that its calving icebergs faster than before.
Lhermitte notes that upcoming iceberg isn’t loose yet, “but the fact that the rift is almost across the entire glacier, it might happen relatively soon.”