Iceberg breaking from Antarctica could be bad news

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Researchers are closely watching part of a giant shelf of ice in Antarctica that could soon become an iceberg.

SCIENTIST studying the Antarctic says a huge crack in an ice shelf is about to create an iceberg the size of Mayo. But according to MIDAS, the rift suddenly grew an additional 18 kilometers (11.2 miles) during the second half of December 2016, and now, there is only a thread, 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) long holding the huge chunk of ice to the shelf.

The Larsen C ice shelf is more than 1,000 feet thick, and in spatial extent, almost the size of Scotland.

"The removal of a large chunk of ice", O'Leary says, "may make the ice shelf more vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the future".

Adrian Luckman, a leader on the UK Antarctic research team Project MIDAS, told the BBC, he would be amazed if the iceberg doesn't split from the shelf within the next few months.

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Scientists fear the loss of ice shelves will destabilise the frozen continent's inland glaciers.

As it floats on the sea, the resulting iceberg from the shelf will not raise sea levels. They have also documented that following the collapse of much of the Larsen B ice shelf in 2002, the glaciers behind it sped up their flow toward the sea.

In 2002, Larsen C's neighboring ice shelf, Larsen B, violently broke off from its parent, shattering into millions of pieces - accelerating a mass of broken ice into the Antarctic current. Ice shelves - sheets of floating ice - wrap around three-quarters of the South Pole's coastline.

The scientists associated with a NASA field campaign known as Operation IceBridge, measured the Larsen C fracture at that time to be about 70 miles long, more than 300 feet wide and about a third of a mile deep.

Whether or not the calving event was caused by climate change, the dispersal and disruption of the ice shelf may have climate ramifications.

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"When it calves, the Larsen C ice shelf will lose more than 10 per cent of its area to leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded; this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula", said the researchers in a statement about the rift. "It appears global warming is replicating conditions that, in the past, triggered significant shifts in the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet".

It's possible that the entire Larsen C shelf could then collapse.

"It's so close to calving that I think it's inevitable". "That's larger than Rhode Island and nearly as big as DE". Because if this iceberg breaks off, it's bad news from the rest of Antarctica.

Globally, sea levels have risen about eight inches since 1901.

"Ice shelves serve a critical role in buttressing ice that's on land", said NASA scientist Thomas Wagner said.

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