Antarctica's Halloween Crack

by | Nov 5, 2019

The Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission takes us over cracks in the Brunt ice shelf, which lies in the Weddell Sea sector of Antarctica.

Using radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission, the animation shows the evolution of two ice fractures from September 2016 until mid-October 2019. The large chasm running northwards is called Chasm 1, while the split extending eastwards is referred to as the Halloween Crack.

First spotted on Oct. 31, 2016, the Halloween Crack runs from an area known as McDonald Ice Rumples, which is where the underside of the floating ice sheet is grounded on the shallow seabed. This pinning point slows the flow of ice and crumples the ice surface into waves.

Chasm 1, however, has been in place for more than 25 years. It was previously stable for many years, but in 2012, the dormant crack started extending northwards. Now Chasm 1 and Halloween Crack are only separated by a few kilometers. When they meet, an iceberg about the size of Greater London will break off. The two lengthening fractures have been set to intersect for years”it's only a matter of time for the two to meet.

Image Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016-19), processed by ESA

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