A large and emerging crack has been found in one of Antarctica’s glaciers, prompting scientists to pay special attention to the ice shelf.
The 18-mile long crack, which has been labeled “large” and “unstable,” was discovered in the continent’s Pine Island Glacier. However, the crack has scientists enamored as it signals that the area will be giving birth to a new iceberg.
NASA scientists flying over the glacier discovered the crack in mid-October while conducting part of its Operation IceBridge mission.
Operation Icebridge is in its third year of mapping melting ice the world's polar region.
NASA described the polar airborne operation as “breaking new scientific ground on its own," and said, "IceBridge this fall has charted the continued rapid acceleration and mass loss of Pine Island Glacier.”
It is predicted that once the iceberg separates from the Pine Island Glacier that it will be larger than New York City.
In a statement released by NASA, the agency labeled the unstable glacier, “the largest source of uncertainty in global sea level rise projections.”
Furthermore, the agency expressed its concern amid the sign of an emerging iceberg as once the iceberg melts away the glacier’s leading ice shelf will have receded to its farthest location since the glacier was discovered back in the 1940s.
The last time Pine Island Glacier produced an iceberg was ten years ago.
Scientists are thrilled with the discovery as it is enabling them to witness the breakup of an iceberg in progress.
Michael Studinger of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center told Fox News, “We are actually now witnessing how it happens and it’s very exciting for us.”
Studinger added, “It’s part of a natural process, but it’s pretty exciting to be here and actually observe it while it happens.”