An ominous crack in an Antarctic ice shelf takes on an otherworldly beauty in a new aerial image.
Snapped by scientists on NASA’s IceBridge mission, the shot shows a rift in Larsen C, an ice shelf floating off the Antarctic Peninsula.
When the crack spreads across the entire ice shelf, it will create an iceberg the size of Delaware, according to IceBridge.
As of Nov. 10, when the IceBridge scientists observed this crack, it was 70 miles long and more than 300 feet wide.
The crack plunges about a third of a mile, all the way through the ice to the ocean below.
According to NASA, this rift is relatively new: The MIDAS Project, a British research group, first observed it in 2014 and has been tracking it ever since.
Larsen C, Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf, holds back the land-based glaciers just behind it.
Once the ice shelf goes, those slow-flowing glaciers have one fewer barrier in their journey toward the sea.
In 2002, the nearby Larsen B ice shelf partially collapsed after showing similar rifting, NASA reported this year when the agency showed the changes in Larsen B alongside a satellite image of the Larsen C crevasse.
According to the MIDAS Project, the eventual calving of the Delaware-size sheet of ice would remove between 9 percent and 12 percent of Larsen C’s surface area and may lead to the crumbling of the entire ice shelf.