ice rift title

ICE RIFT by Ben Hammott

An action adventure survival horror set in Antarctica

The idea for the story for Ice Rift came from an actual ice rift that was discovered in the remote Pine Glacier Ice shelf in Antarctica.

Antarctica is home to about 70 percent of the planet's fresh water, and 90 percent of the planet's freshwater ice. Two massive ice sheets, nearly 3 miles (4 kilometers) thick in some places, cover about 99 percent of the continental landmass. Including its islands and attached floating plains of ice, Antarctica is roughly 5.4 million square miles (14 million square km), about one-and-a-half times the size of the United States.

On October 14, 2011, scientists flying over Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier (PIG) ice shelf as part of NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission made a startling discovery: there was a massive rift running about 29 kilometers (18 miles) across a part of the glacier’s floating tongue. The rift was 80 meters (260 feet) wide on average, and 50 to 60 meters (170 to 200 feet) deep.

ice rift 1

When the crack reaches the other side of the ice shelf, it will send a huge new iceberg drifting into Pine Island Bay. Since discovering it, researchers have monitored the rift closely with remote sensing equipment. This pair of images, acquired by a synthetic aperture radar on Germany’s TerraSar-X satellite, shows how it lengthened and widened between October 31, 2011, and September 14, 2012. In May 2012, a second crack formed west of the original one. Download the animation to see how this part of the ice shelf and the rift has changed since May 2011.

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Rifts similar to this form on the Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf every five-to-six years. “What makes this one remarkable is that it will lead to calving of a significantly larger iceberg than PIG has produced in the last few decades,” noted Joseph MacGregor, a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. “It is likely that the front of PIG will be farther back than any time in the recent past after the iceberg calves,” he said.

Ice Rift Trench

Satellites observed large icebergs calving off Pine Island Glacier in 2001 and 2007, but upcoming Ice Bridge flights offer an opportunity to monitor a calving event from closer range. Operation Ice Bridge resumed science flights with NASA’s DC-8 on Oct. 12, 2012. Scientists participating in the mission will be watching the crack closely for any new signs of change.

When the iceberg breaks free, it will cover about 340 square miles (880 square kilometers) of surface area. Radar measurements suggested the ice shelf in the region of the rift is about 1,640 feet (500 meters) feet thick, with only about 160 feet of the shelf floating above water and the rest submerged. It is likely that once the iceberg floats away, the leading edge of the ice shelf will have receded farther than at any time since its location was first recorded in the 1940s.

Lakes Beneath the Ice

In among the Gamburtsev Mountains lies another enigmatic feature of the Antarctic: Lake Vostok — a pristine freshwater lake buried beneath 2.5 miles (3.7 km) of solid ice. About the size of Lake Ontario, it is the largest of the more than 200 liquid lakes strewn around the continent under the ice.

The lakes are largely created when heat from the Earth's core melts the bottom of the ice sheet; the thick blanket of ice on top acts as insulation. Some of the lakes have been isolated for hundreds of thousands to millions of years, and scientists are racing to collect water samples; the sequestered lakes could be bastions of biological discovery, full of never-before-seen microbial life.

Operation Ice Bridge

NASA's Operation Ice Bridge, the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown, is in the midst of its third field campaign from Punta Arenas, Chile. The six-year mission will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. The glaciers of the Antarctic, and Greenland, Ice Sheets, commonly birth icebergs that break off from the main ice streams where they flow in to the sea, a process called calving.

The crack was found in Pine Island Glacier, which last calved a significant iceberg in 2001; some scientists have speculated recently that it was primed to calve again. But until an Oct. 14 Ice Bridge flight, no one had seen any evidence of the ice shelf beginning to break apart. Since then, a more detailed look back at satellite imagery seems to show the first signs of the crack in early October.

"We are actually now witnessing how it happens and it's very exciting for us," said Ice Bridge project scientist Michael Studinger of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "It's part of a natural process, but it's pretty exciting to be here and actually observe it while it happens."

Gravity pulls the ice in the glacier westward along Antarctica's Hudson Mountains toward the Amundsen Sea. A floating tongue of ice reaches out 30 miles (48 kilometers) into the Amundsen beyond the grounding line, the below-sea-level point where the ice shelf locks onto the continental bedrock. As ice pushes toward the sea from the interior, inevitably the ice shelf will crack and send a large iceberg free.

Pine Island Glacier is of particular interest to scientists because it is big and unstable and so is one of the largest sources of uncertainty in global sea level rise projections.

The Ice Bridge team observed the rift running across the ice shelf for about 18 miles (29 km), using an instrument called the Airborne Topographic Mapper, which uses a technology called lidar (light detection and ranging) that sends out a laser beam that bounces off a surface and back to the device. The lidar instrument measured the rift's shoulders about 820 feet (250 meters) apart at its widest, although the rift stretched about 260 feet (79 meters) wide along most of the crack. The deepest points from the ice shelf surface ranged from 165 to 195 feet (50 to 60 meters).

Ice Rift Book information

Amazon Reviews for Ice Rift

It Was Like Watching A Major Blockbuster Sci/Fi, Summer Movie.., July 14, 2016 By Robin Lee TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 14, 2016

"This should be a 5 star movie besides a full length novel...Then again the production house's would probably ruin it from it's original version ...You know , I have been reading supposedly bestsellers all Summer that were hyped up..From , first time , unknown authors , outrageous kindle prices, and these books just sucked or were subpar.... They want to use the word 'Extravaganza " for there books , well I am using it for this spectacular story.... That is so visually descriptive, you could actually see the FX's ... It's action packed, humorous at times, emotional, super terrorizing, high tension, bloody battle, with gross , Alien life forms for another world.. ( First don't, go by the page numbers above.. Amazon has it all wrong because this is a 9-10 novel on my KPW after it calculated it....) So, for 2 days I was completely immersed in this , Cold Antarctic World.. Think a mix of the old movies , "The Thing ", "Alien and " Predator"... If you love those films , you will be dying to read this book because we are more advanced now that it's 2015. Perfect research went into this book concerning conditions in the Antarctic, the blizzards, whiteouts, the Sno Cats, ice climbing, Base stations, and then there is " The Rift "... The writing was excellent or there was no way I could have even related to the characters at all. Which after time spent, you easily become panic struck and breathless with them while trapped... You also have constant suspense around every corner because of all the unknowns ... The ending is climatic, non-stop, with all the questions finally answered and a hint of maybe a part 2.. Though this story is final."


His writing is excellent and absorbs you into the story

"I've read several books by Ben Hammott and definitely consider myself to be a fan. His writing is excellent and absorbs you into the story, and this one is no different. I've always loved stories set in arctic and cold locations so I found myself engrossed in the story from the first few pages. There is action, intrigue, and a lot of twists and turns that I definitely wasn't expecting, and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes first contact stories with aliens that are done in a clever and unique way.

If you haven't picked up a Ben Hammott book before, then Ice Rift is a great place to start and I guarantee you'll have a new author to add to your list of must reads!"

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