When pictured by NASA’s IceBridge mission on November 10, 2016, the fissure measured roughly 70 miles. Within the last month, it has expanded by 11 miles, with only a 12-mile sliver holding Larsen C to the main ice shelf. Once it calves, it will take on new life as an iceberg the size of the state of Delaware.
In a statement to the Washington Post, Paul Holland, a member of the British Antarctic Survey, estimates that the ice that will fill the gap left by Larsen C and melt into the Weddell Sea could cause sea level to rise by roughly 10 centimeters (3.9 inches). The collapse of Larsen C could also affect the nearby marine ecosystem and ocean circulation as well as destabilize the remainder of the Larsen ice shelf.
“As long as there is a balance between the chunks that calve off and the ice that comes in off the mountains, it’s a normal part of the process,” Pettit said. “This one is very large and will put the whole system into the negative. And that’s why it’s particularly interesting to us.”
As I was saying in another thread, the ocean is to the Earth as Ph and other buffers are to the human body. Heat taken up by the ocean from a warming planet melts polar ice and maintains a life hospitable environment. Not to mention the oceans taking up other gasses like CO2 (ocean acidifacation) that help stabilize the atmosphere. Venturing into the unknown is scary for when there is less ice to melt (going through that phase change which requires a lot of heat energy), there is decreased albedo and a positive feedback system. less albedo, more solar radiation absorbed, more ice melts, less albedo, more heat absorbed, more ice melts, less albedo.
Precisely, water has to absorb 4.184 Joules of heat for the temperature of one gram of water to increase 1 degree celsius (°C). For comparison sake, it only takes 0.385 Joules of heat to raise 1 gram of copper 1°C.