In early 2017, researchers reported a rapidly growing rift carving its way across the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic peninsula. They predicted it would be a only a matter of weeks, perhaps, before a Delaware-sized chunk of ice dropped into the ocean. I created a series of graphics and wrote a piece show the growth of the rift and compared it with the breakup of the Larsen A and B, both located north of the rift. 

GIFs allow us to easily show simple change over time. For this story, I created two GIFs: one showing the crack growing across the Antarctic on a map and another using NASA imagery to show the breakup of Larsen B. 

To create the map showing the rift, I used GPS data from Project MIDAS, projected it in QGIS and then drew the map from those files in Illustrator. A NASA scientist helped me check the Antarctic coastline for accuracy (the satellite imagery I used in QGIS was outdated and didn't reflect recent melting.)

 

In 2002, the Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated in a matter of weeks, losing about 1,250 square miles of area from Jan. 31 - March 17. (Source: NASA)

In 2002, the Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated in a matter of weeks, losing about 1,250 square miles of area from Jan. 31 - March 17. (Source: NASA)

Watch the rift grow across the Larsen C. By January 2017, it was more than 90 miles long. (Source: Project MIDAS)

Watch the rift grow across the Larsen C. By January 2017, it was more than 90 miles long. (Source: Project MIDAS)

I also created a simple map to show the extent of all the ice loss in the region since scientists began measuring ice coverage. 

 

The map above shows ice loss around the Larsen B ice shelf, which is just to the north of Larsen C. Large pieces of the shelf melted in the years before it collapsed in 2002. (Source: USGS (I-2600), Cook and Vaughn, NASA.)

The map above shows ice loss around the Larsen B ice shelf, which is just to the north of Larsen C. Large pieces of the shelf melted in the years before it collapsed in 2002. (Source: USGS (I-2600), Cook and Vaughn, NASA.)