Natural Sciences

Growing cracks in an Antarctic ice shelf closes British Antarctic Research Station

What we are witnessing is the power and unpredictability of Nature,” said the BAS director Jane Francis.

BAS was forced to close the mobile British research station at Halley VI on the Brunt Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea for a second winter, although relocated earlier in 2017 to avoid the danger of being cast adrift. “Halley is primarily a data factory, collecting data on the space, environment and monitoring the atmosphere, [such as] ozone and CO2.

In 2012, the major ice chasm southwest of Halley VI which had been dormant for at least 35 years, became active again, growing by an average of 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) every year since.

The latest assessment by glaciologists found the chasm had accelerated over the 2017 Antarctic winter, and a second crack that appeared north of the base in October 2016 – known as the “Halloween Crack” – had continued to extend eastward.

In 1985, scientists based at Halley IV — the fourth BAS research station on the ice shelf — discovered Antarctica’s “ozone hole with subsequent research linking the ozone hole to the accumulation of chlorine-based chemicals in the upper atmosphere, such as the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) once widely used as refrigerants and in aerosol cans. In 1987 the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement aimed to eliminate the use of CFCs and other ozone-depleting chemicals.

Latest studies of the Antarctic ozone hole show that it is now at its smallest extent since 1988, in part due to higher than normal temperatures over the southern polar continent now causing difficulties for monitoring efforts.

This article was attributed and provided by PG International


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