The government of the British Antarctic Territory have issued (22nd May) a new coin that pays particular attention to a phenomenon occurring in 2002 that shed light on the ecological plight of the polar regions of the planet. During the period from the 31st January to March 2002, the Larsen B Sector of the shelf partially collapsed and 3,250 square kilometers of ice, 220 metres thick, disappeared into the sea in about a week. The Larsen ice shelf is a long, fringing shelf consisting of three sectors situated in the northwest Weddell Sea and extending along the Antarctic Peninsula.
A study conducted by NASA in 2015 concluded that the remaining part of the Larsen B sector will collapse by 2020—a shocking fact when you consider that the shelf has remained stable for the past 10,000 years. It’s not just Larsen B that is in trouble; Larsen A collapsed in 1995, and experts predict that Larsen C could also disintegrate by the end of the 21st century.
Larsen C is the fourth-largest ice shelf in Antarctica. A rift in the shelf that formed in 2016 now measures over 130 kilometres (81 miles) in length with a width of 91 metres (100 yards) and a depth of 500 metres (550 yards). The collapse of this shelf seems a certainty for 2017, and when it goes, it will form one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, with an area of around 5,000 square kilometres (1,930 square miles)—an iceberg roughly the size of the island of Trinidad. It is events like this that highlight the fragility of the natural world and encourage us to minimise our impact on Earth.
Produced by the Pobjoy Mint, United Kingdom, on behalf of the government of the British Antarctic Territory, the coin features an image of the Larsen B ice shelf and has a hologram effect struck onto the coin. The hologram, which represents the part of the ice shelf that collapsed 15 years ago, retreats as the coin is tilted. The rim of this coin has been designed with a cracked-ice effect that ties the whole theme of the coin together very effectively.
The obverse features an effigy design of HM Queen Elizabeth II designed by and under exclusive use of the Pobjoy Mint.
|£2||.925 silver||28.2 g||38.6 mm||Proof with hologram||2,002|
The £2 Larsen B Proof sterling silver coins are shipped in an acrylic capsule for protection and housed in a custom red box with a certificate of authenticity. Pobjoy Mint is well known for their success in producing holographic coins in the past. As the coin has a low mintage of just 2,002 (representing the year of the Larsen B Sector collapse), it is expected to be over-subscribed.
Please visit the e-webshop of the Pobjoy Mint for additional information on this and other coins issued by the government of the British Antarctic Territory.
Nasa video on the collapse of Larsen B:
To read about the Larsen C ice shelf, please visit “Giant iceberg set to calve from Larsen C ice shelf” on phys.org. ❑